Man does Starbucks make a terrible cappuccino. I say Starbucks as if every one of their ten gabillion barristas makes the same cappuccino. Starbucks as a whole, I mean. I’ve gotten some nice espresso drinks from the Bucks but I’ve also gotten some remarkably terrible ones, including this one I’m drinking now. It’s all milk and he burned it a little and their espresso is bitter and I think it might even be nonfat and definitely was resteamed, in fact it’s the worst milk that’s ever gone into coffee, and do you know what? I am a happy man.

I’m sitting here on a comfortable bench in my neighborhood of my city on thanksgiving morning. On the table in front of me is a stack of bread and a box of pastries, breakfast for the two of us. It’s one of my spots, the black bench in behind Kazumi Sushi Bar. Nobody and nothing is bothering me. The first stranger I saw this morning smiled at me. She was a cute girl walking a nice dog westbound on University and I was tempted to follow her. No matter – a me followed her in another universe. Inside Bread and Cie I was cool and calm and my witticisms flowed, which for whatever egotistical reason is generally of prime importance to me. My witticisms have to be heard and giggled at and they have to flow and I cannot be shamed. Then in Bucks I was able to keep up with their edgy, caffy vibe that often borders on the cocaine-addled in its intensity of feel-good inanity.

In other words I am a happy man. Twenty eight years old and in perfect health. Perfect health! My dequervains tendons ache and my left knee still needs a brace at most times and my elbow is sprained from martial arts class and general inflexibility is desitined to hurt me in later life. But for today I declare myself to be in perfect health. My heart rate is low, my blood pressure is low, my liver enzyme activity is low, my cholesterol is way low, I work out nearly every day and walk at least a mile on those days when I don’t, and right now there’s no conceivable reason barring an unseemly accident that I shouldn’t go on living in perpetuum. Amid all this vibrant Ponce de Leon healthity, I sit sipping the worst cappuccino made on earth today. The very worst!

Consider the quantity of cappuccinos made today! Think of every single single capp ordered in every last Bucks, every last café, every measly wormridden restaurant, every last truck stop and airport and mcdonalds today. I’ve seen cappuccinos poured out of a machine with a button that said cappuccino – still, those were better cappucini than this one that I’m drinking. I’ve heard waitresses bemoan “cappa-what?” and march back furious to the greasepit kitchen where they poured half-and-half into a boiling pot of folgers and returned with a spit of “Your capp-u-cino, madame.”. I’ve seen Tyler Durdens spit into their frothpots and how many Tyler Durdens are jerking off into them behind those kitchen doors? Hot semen infused cappuccinos and still, still, they’re better than this one poor cappuccino sitting here in a 12oz Fuckbucks cup because, as the barrista put it, they’re out of the short cups.

“Zat because nobody orders the small-small?” I ask.

“No. It’s just. We haven’t gotten any in like a while. Yeah.” He says. “No, not too many people want the short size.”


Bungo, as Brett would say. Bungo, chap.

Most of the way through my capp and now I’m truly convinced – no buzz. I’m not buzzing. This is the final letdown – decaff. It’s like finding out you’ve just snorted baking powder. I want my money back, I’m ready to torch the mermaid, burn the place to the ground, spread the ashes, salt the earth. Over a cappuccino? Over a damn cappuccino! Wars have been fought over less. Wars! Can you imagine a war? I can’t even begin to fathom it. Two sides, lining up across from each other, spitting political rhetoric, facing certain death. The organized cleansing of excess males. War as an evolutionary tool by which the 40-plus men rid the population of gutty young men, thus improving their own chances at scoring with the young babes. The way of the world for centuries. So be it.

And me at peace, dreaming of warfare over the worst cappuccino ever made. Hah! This is it, the epitome of mankind. The dawn of a new epoch. The day, the very day out of the million since that first day on the savannah when the apple was eaten, when man reached an accord with his own sensibilites. How did this occur? Simple. Today, man, a man, this man, learned the secret. The secret of life. What is the secret life?

To know what it is to make a cappuccino. To appreciate the craftsmanship of a well made cappuccino, to appreciate the farmer who planted the beans and the laborer who picked them. To appreciate the global commerce network that got those beans here, and to appreciate the guy who squatted down on a Seattle sidewalk and with his bare hands begat the Mermaid. To appreciate the men who threw the brunt of their lives into domesticating cattle so that I mean have a squeeze of their teat-juice. To appreciate steam, all the punkery and whiz-bangness it took to arrive at the espresso machine, that most reliable of itallian machinery, maybe the only reliable piece of Itallian machinery. To fall in love with the process of pulping trees into paper for the cups, and the marketing round-tables that came up with the little holiday cheer on the side of that cup, the secular holiday lights and little slogan “It only happens once a year.”. To adore the soccer moms tripping on their third triple latte of the day. To want to kiss the man who made with his bare hands this abonitation in front of me. To know what a good cappuccino is and to know what a great cappuccino is and to have in my mind the best cappuccino I’ve ever had – Woodside Bakery, 1995 , barrista = Rudy, the Guatemalan Legend – and to sit here with my decaf burned cup of cino, enjoying it, relishing it, loving it.

- M. Oropeza


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