3rd December 2020
In Seattle. Washington, my friend Katie and I sat in a tiny cafe, in silence.
According to a blog I’d read, the cafe offered a thing called a ‘Deconstructed Latte,’ which, the blogger wrote, “alone is worth the trip.”
I’d never heard of such an order and, honestly, I was excited. Katie, on the other hand, was resentful.
She was like many Americans I met. She saw coffee as a means. Normally she ordered the cheapest roast of batch, otherwise known as drip coffee, in the largest cup, which, in the States, was the size of a stockpot.
Despite her preferences, she was surprisingly willing when I asked if she could drive us to the other side of the city for this obscure coffee order. “Screw you and your stupid wanky coffees, Jayden,” she said as she turned onto the highway.
When we got to the cafe, a lady with a nose ring told us the establishment was table service. So we sat down at a window seat and waited for 20 minutes.
“This is ridiculous,” Katie said, looking at the time. "I'm going."
“Just a little longer,” I pleaded.
Eventually, a shabby man sauntered over to our table. He was unshaven and had yellow teeth. If he wasn’t behind a coffee machine and didn’t have a nose ring too, you might’ve mistaken him as homeless. Really, he was a mess.
“Do you have something called a Deconstructed Latte?” I asked.
“What is it?”
“Can’t tell you, unless you order it.”
Then Katie chimed in. "Just your biggest drip coffee for me."
The barista nodded, then disappeared and, 30 minutes later, appeared again with the coffees. The Deconstructed Latte, as the name suggested, was a latte, broken into separate elements and served in little wine glasses. One had milk. One had an espresso. The other had milk and espresso. “The milk is so good, we wanted people to appreciate it by itself,” the barista said.
“We get the milk from Daisy the cow. She’s grass-fed and lives on a friend’s farm a few miles down the road.”
“A busy cow,” I said and took a sip. Admittedly, the milk was very good.
“$13,” he said and held out a white square. And just like that the milk didn’t taste good anymore.
“No worries,” I said, in a high-pitch tone. I tapped my card, doing the conversion to Australian dollars in my head. As the machine beeped, signaling payment had left my account, I thought, Shit. I just paid $20 for a coffee.
I sipped each glass and, within a minute, I'd finished. Having realized I just blew a quarter of my daily budget, I became hopelessly dissatisfied.
"How was the latte?" Katie said, holding her stockpot of batch she paid $2 for.
"Very good," I said because when you pay that much for something, admitting your dissatisfaction is simply too painful.
"Well, I'm going to be here for a while," she said, opening a brick of a book. "Want to get another?"
"No, no. I'm fine," I said. "I'll just wait.”
. . .
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