Driven to Espresso: Drive-through Coffee Stands in the Northwest

If you think coffee culture is cool, you have come to the right place. I have loads of information and opinions to share about espresso in the Pacific Northwest, especially the drive-through phenomenon.

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Location: Edmonds, WA, United States

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Great opportunity for poop-lickers

I am referring, of course, to the folks in Indonesia who lick civet poop to determine the quality of the excreted coffee beans known as kopi luwak. These unique coffee beans (unique in terms of where they've been) are the most expensive ones in the world -- selling for as much as $227USD. I got a little excited when I discovered a website selling it for $21, but then I saw that it was for a single serving. No, really, a true coffee connoisseur will drink this stuff and tell you it tastes smooth and chocolaty. Let me tell you, that phrase will never mean the same to me again.

But back to the poop-lickers. In an article in the New York Times, Norimitsu Onishi was interviewing a civet coffee harvester who inspected a "batch" of beans and licked a bean, explaining that "real civet coffee beans should have lost their natural sweetness and acquired a rough texture." I expect anything I find in such a situation, whether from a civet or otherwise, would have lost natural sweetness and acquired a rough texture, but maybe that is just an incorrect assumption.

Being the pricey food item they are, naturally civet coffee beans are subject to counterfeiting. Most likely you were already considering a way for you to create such an item in your own home. Perhaps in the bathroom. Coffee companies who purchase kopi luwak from harvesters have come across "regular beans glued to unidentified dung." I'm not sure, but if you're looking for a job in this field, gluing beans to dung may be a step up from poop-licking.

Another poor substitute are the spat-up beans from bats who merely chewed on the coffee flowers and didn't actually consume the beans. But that must be an obviously inferior substitute to you by now. They certainly would be smooth and chocolaty, eh?

One last warning to the connoisseur looking for the very finest civet poop beans (see why they call it kopi luwak?) is that some bean harvesters now use farmed civets rather than looking around on the forest floor for cage-free excrement. There is some disagreement about whether the wild version is of higher quality. I haven't found (because I haven't looked for) an opinion from PETA on the subject of caged civets, but it probably would not be focused on the quality of the pooped beans. They are likely to be more concerned about the eating of civets, which are considered a delicacy in Indonesia. (Man, if I hear "considered a delicacy" one more time...)

Does the thought of caged animals who enjoy a steady diet of coffee freak you out as much as it does me? Now I am picturing the cubicle-bound computer programmers over at Microsoft, where the coffee flows freely from their gigantic Starbucks coffee machines that grind fresh beans and brew up one cup at a time in every kitchen. If we could get those geeks to eat the coffee flowers and... never mind.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Bikini Barista, the music video

OMG. Why didn't I think of this? I think this demonstrates the huge difference between documentary books and music videos. Well, there really isn't a comparison.

The Cowgirls Espresso stand featured in this video is the one that appears on page 101 of Driven to Espresso, and if I'm not mistaken, one of the baristas is Kim, who appears on page 8.

If you are offended by looking at bikini baristas, don't view this music video by Quickie (ahem... that's the name of the band). View video

Thursday, April 01, 2010

No end to the bikini barista fascination

I have Google Alerts set up to send me an email everyday showing me new content it finds for the phrase "bikini barista." There has not been a day go by that it doesn't come up with several new articles on this subject. Many times the "new" content it finds is a copy of an earlier post by someone that gets replicated or quoted by newspapers, bloggers, or other media sources.

There are three main types of content it finds: news relating to trouble that the baristas and/or owners get into with the law; comments by folks who have some opinion on the topic, one side or the other; and advertisements for baristas that stand owners post, usually on Craigslist. When there is news relating to legal troubles, that article will get picked up by several other bloggers (like me sometimes!) and the media in general. Sometimes the news isn't so much about legal trouble, as much as a simple statement that a new stand has opened. Nowadays, these new "sexpresso" stands are outside the Northwest region, because, let's face it, we have gotten over that as a news item here. The latest advertisement for job applications for bikini baristas comes from a stand in Cincinnati, my hometown. In case you haven't heard, Cincinnati is well known as a conservative city, so I'm waiting to read about that controversial stand's debut there.

One new stand that did make the news here though, is the male barista stand that features "minimally dressed" male baristas. (Seattle women note: it is the "Barista Boyz of Broadway" on Capitol Hill next to the Seattle Academy of Arts and Sciences at 1122 E Madison St. Oh yeah, this is Capitol Hill, so I should not have limited my note to just Seattle women.) I know a lot of soccer moms have been waiting for this, and it's bound to spread outward to the suburbs soon, so hang in there. But truthfully, this is not the level of bare skin most women have been anticipating. It's just bare-chested guys who don't mind getting hot steam on their abs. Hmmmmm. No thongs yet. Sorry.