Barista chronicles

coffee beans and mugs forming owl shape on table

Earlier in this century, I used to work for the empire. No, not The Empire… the coffee empire with the green-and-white logo.

And that experience is a source of some fun facts, and anecdotes, to be sure. Take, for example:

The first caffeine-addicts, according to legend, were goats. When some goat herders noticed that their animals “danced” and appeared hyperactive after consuming the beans (cherries) of a coffee plant, further investigation led to the brewing of a delicious beverage that (in turn) kept humans alert and awake.

Brazil is the world’s major producer of coffee beans, followed by Vietnam and Colombia. And what countries lead the way as far as per-capita coffee consumption? You’re right if you guessed Finland, followed by Sweden and Iceland! I’m surprised that the USA is not higher on the list.

And did you know that decaf coffees and teas do, indeed, still have some caffeine? According to the Mayo Clinic, an 8-ounce cup of regular brewed coffee will have 96 milligrams of caffeine; and its decaf counterpart has 2 milligrams.

One ounce of regular espresso has 64 milligrams of caffeine.

Which brings me to our concluding anecdote, a tidbit from my barista days:

Scene: Afternoon. My location of the Green Empire. I’m stationed behind the bar. A well-dressed male customer approaches, accompanied by an adorable little girl aged perhaps 5 or 6 years. Let’s listen in.

Me: Welcome to [the coffee empire]. What can I get started for you?

Customer: I’ll have a grande vanilla latte, and a child’s size Mocha.

Me: [Hmm, should I tell him? — after a beat, I do the right thing] Sir, you do know that a child’s size Mocha is going to have an ounce of espresso in it?

Customer: [looks at me with horrified expression]

Me: Would you like a child’s size hot chocolate instead?

Customer: [hurriedly] Yes, that’s what we will get.

Truth (and Barista Anecdotes) can be much, much stranger than fiction…

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