Give Me Coffee

I am not now, nor have I ever been a Starbucks loyalist. That being said, I consume (on average) one Venti coffee purchased at a Starbucks each day. Not so much because their coffee is good, which it usually is, but because it’s consistent.

From day to day I am Mr. Routine. For years I used to go to Tim’s coffee shop each morning and drink a pot of coffee over a few hours of reading before going to work. This changed to Charlie’s when Tim’s closed and over the years this changed to grabbing a cup of coffee at the Stop and Go on the drive into work and more recently it has graduated to stopping at the local Starbucks on the way into the office.

For the most part I walk in, pay my $2.11, get my coffee, go to the counter and doctor it up the way I like it (1 Splenda, a dash of half and half and a sprinkle of cinnamon) and move on.

Here lately Starbucks has changed their brewing policy so that they they never serve coffee that has sat out more than 30 minutes after being brewed. This has lead to a few occasions where I am informed by the “Barista” that I’ll have to wait a few minutes for my coffee while they brew a fresh pot.

This bugs me because Mr. Routine doesn’t like to idle waiting to satisfy the coffee component of his daily grind. But I’ve been letting is slide. Mostly because my regular Starbucks near my house will usually comp my coffee for having to wait or offer me an Americano as a substitute. They are always polite and apologetic and the coffee is always “almost ready.”

Yea, I was all about changing from Mr. Routine to Mr. Flexible. Goin’ with the flow and taking it as it comes in the name of fresher than fresh java…until last night.

The one slight variation in my coffee routine is on Wednesday nights when I stop at the Starbucks on the corner of Montrose and Hawthorn before heading over to the radio station to get ready for Technology Bytes.

I gotta say, this is not the shining star of the Starbucks fleet. The store itself is shabby and rather unclean. There’s a slight odor when you walk in and the area where the cream and sugar is kept is usually in disarray with a garbage can filled to overflowing. On top of that they’re usually out of cinnamon and you have to dig into the grimy back of the little doohickies that hold the sugar, Sweet n Low and Splenda to extract a wrinkled and possibly (often) water stained packet of sweetener.

But I put up with it because it because it’s hard to screw up a cup of coffee and I like having a full cup to drink at the station while I prepare for the show.

Last night I walked in and was happy to see there was no line and I ordered my coffee. I was told it would be a few minutes while they brewed a fresh pot.


I took the opportunity to use the men’s room figuring that would kill part of the wait time. On a side note, the bathroom was surprisingly clean and that put me in better spirits about the wait.

Upon exiting the men’s room I do what I always do when I am waiting for the coffee to brew, I look at the timer to see how much time is left.

This time when I do I am somewhat startled to realize there is no coffee brewing. They are just now filling the filter to start a pot so they’re not only far from done, they’re rather far from starting as well.

For crying out loud, when the name of your company is predicated on the product you sell you darn well better be able to sell it when a customer orders it.

It’s a coffee shop. Is it unreasonable to expect the employees of said coffee shop who’s job it is to make coffee to be sold have coffee ready for sale to those ready to purchase coffee? You would’t think so.

It’s not like going into Bob’s Zebra and Giraffe Emporium and discovering they’re fresh out of Zebras. If that’s the case just give me your best estimate as to when the Zebra delivery man will be coming by and I will come back for my Zebra when the stock is replenished and oh, give me a giraffee to take home for the lil lady would ya? Thanks very much and have a lovely day.

It’s coffee. Hot water, coffee beans and a pot. It’s what you do and you should be REALLY good at it by now.

Here’s hoping the Dietrich’s down the road stays open for the foreseeable future because I am done with that particular Starbucks location.


One thousand pounds for an elephant?
It’s outrageous! You’ve been diddled.

But it’s not often one needs an elephant in a hurry.


I’ll be headed to Seattle next week on business. I’ve always wanted to visit. The best friend of my youth, Rich Davis, is living up in Washington State and we’ll be getting together for dinner one evening. I haven’t seen him in over 12 years…maybe 15. We were pretty inseparable for most of our teenage years. People used to call us Heckle and Jeckle.

Pike Place Market, a cup of coffee at the original Starbuck’s and dinner at The Space Needle are all on the agenda.

When I get back I have a short time before I re-pack and catch a flight to Galway Ireland to participate in an IT project. We’re migrating the two international corporate NT domains. That should be fun. As luck would have it, Owen Finn will be there on one of the days I’m visiting so I’ll get to meet his family. I’ll also be entertained by members of the “Irish Contingent” on their home turf.

I’m taking a few extra days to take in the sights.

After that it’s only a few months before Cynthia and I head of to Spain for our 30 day adventure that we’ve been planning for the last year.

Java, Cup of Joe

I can distinctly remember my first cup of coffee.
I was 12 or 13 years old so that puts it around 1973.

Yup, it was the “olden days.”

My mother used to go down the street to Mrs. Gladden’s house for coffee and gossip.
It was summertime and I was bored one day so I went with her to hang out. Mrs. Gladden’s son wasn’t around so I sat in the living room with my mother and Mrs. Gladden and Mrs. Gladden asked if I would like a cup of coffee.

I looked at my mother and she nodded her approval and I said “yes!” It seemed to me to be so very adult to get to hang out and drink coffee. There was the first sip of black coffee which was not too pleasant and then my mother and Mrs. Gladden coached me through the process of adding non-dairy creamer and some sugar which made it much more palatable.

I was hooked from the get-go.

Keep in mind that during my adolescence and early adult years I did not drink or experiment with drugs. That’s right, while the other kids rocking round the clock, I was hoppin’ and boppin’ to a thing called the Crocodile Rock Java Jive. While many of the kids my age were extolling the glories of casual drug use by doodling marijuana leaves and pills on their notebooks I was revelling in the iconic simplicity of a steaming cup of coffee.

There were plenty of head shops during the 70’s but not so many dedicated coffee shops. Places like Jo-Jo’s, Denny’s and Kip’s Big Boy served bottomless cups of coffee, but they were restaurants first and foremost. The wait-staff frowned on teenagers coming and ordering cup after cup of coffee without purchasing a meal. I can recall Rich Davis and me wearing out out welcome at the Kettle on S. Shaver (or was it Spencer Hwy?) in Pasadena, TX any number of times.

After I got out of the Navy and returned to Pasadena my coffee addiction was in full swing and now it was 1981. Coffee shops were still a rare commodity and I was pretty much hooked on coffee. I had a percolator my parents had given me and I kept that thing going pretty steady.

In late 1983 Hurricane Alicia came along and ripped the roof off of my small apartment and this was the catalyst for moving into the city. I landed in the Montrose and before long I was working at the Half Price Books on Waugh Drive. In the process of exploring my new neighborhood I discovered Tim’s Coffee Shop. It’s now Bambolino’s Italian Kitchen but back in the day it was a cozy little coffee shop/restaurant and I was there almost every day before heading in to work, reading the paper and drinking coffee and making friends.

Tim’s Coffee Shop became the formal gathering place of the Philosopher’s Guild, a small band of friends who would meet and stay up to all hours of the night discussing anything and everything while consuming mass quantities of coffee.

Tim’s eventually closed down and Charlie’s Coffee Shop opened just down the road in what was once a topless bar called The Boobie Rock and is now the lesbian bar Chances. I sometimes wonder if the patrons know the sordid history of that little piece of real estate…

Charlie’s, for all intents and purposes, was a gay Denny’s. While it was primarily a restaurant, you could still just grab a booth and sit and drink cup after cup of coffee. I spent a lot of time in Charlie’s and was very sad when it closed.

During this time frame two things happened that were directly influenced by my love/addiction to coffee.

My first radio show of any significance was on Friday mornings from 5-8 and when I was trying to come up with a name I thought of that glorious line from the 1984 movie Suburbia, “Wake Up and Smell the Coffee” (which was also later used in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off in 1986).

The third album/CD my band recorded adopted the title “Give Me Coffee” from the first song I ever wrote of the same name.

Fast forward some years and I’m in The Heights after Cynthia and I first got together. Coffee shops are starting to pop-up like crazy. Starbucks has begun to explode and coffee drinking is becoming quite the fad. I found a place called Java Java on Heights Blvd and that became my new coffee haunt.

After I finally managed to get out of working retail and on to a more steady Monday through Friday schedule working in the corporate worlds my trips to the coffee shop began to dwindle as I opted for the grab and go convenience of Stop and Go coffee.

In all the years I have been consuming coffee I rather prided myself in being quite basic about it. No lattes, no cappuccinos, no espressos or mochas or anything fancy. Just a cup of coffee with cream and sugar or black in a pinch. As Starbucks rose to power, other specialty coffee shops sprung up but I kept true to my coffee roots.

I practically swore to myself I would never patronize a Starbucks. That was until our trip to the UK. While we were in Edinburgh, Scotland we toured The Edinburgh Castle. It was cold, wet and windy. When we got to the top there was a gift shop and in that shop there was a Starbucks…

I didn’t change my coffee stripes then and there. I was a coffee addict and this had the appeal and benefit of actually being available. Still, the chip in my coffee armor was there now.

Over the years my resolve to stay away from designer coffee shops has wained.

Cynthia enjoys a “good” cup of coffee on Sundays. She’s not interested in Stop and Go coffee and suggested a few years back that we stop at Starbucks on the way to the grocery store. Her offer was to buy the coffee if I would agree to stop there. I capitulated and now it’s our Sunday tradition.

It wasn’t long before I was hooked. I can no longer drink the coffee offered at the local convenience store. Now I get a Starbucks pretty much every day on the way to work and often one in the evening.

But it’s still a matter of pride that I don’t order those designer froo froo coffee drinks.

No frappacinos, no half caff no fat grand mochachinos for me, no sir. Just a LARGE house coffee to go, thank you very much!