I remember the first time I stole a roll of toilet paper from a sushi restaurant. I proudly waved the evidence of my crime before my mother, who though initially grinning, proceeded to lecture me on the cyclical nature of theft. As usual, my mother was right. Within weeks of the first stealth operation, I was stealing bottles of diet coke from Oxford dining halls and bottles of nail polish remover from swanky London salons.
There is a part, however, that my mother left out. Crime or sin is cyclical, but not just in the specificities sense. Those who steal, yes, will likely continue to steal, but they will also fall into a general pattern of disorderly conduct. For me, that means infidelity– in the purely caffeinated sense. I made a vow the night before my AP Biology exam: “I solemnly swear to only ever purchase daily quantities of caffeine from establishments that exhibit the Seattle mermaid in their windows.” And for five years I kept that vow.
However, something happened this summer. Perhaps it was prompted by my year of wanderlust abroad, but suddenly I was discontent settling on one coffee house. I needed change; to experience new grinds, to flirt with new baristas, to delight in new versions of reduced-fat, sugar-free morning muffins on route to work.
And then it happened. I got the text from Adria– the one regarding the discovery of Stumptown Coffee Roasters— and the caffeine-prompted affairs began. First, at Stumptown itself, which I returned to late last night just to discover I had earned my first free drink. Yes, they have loyalty cards, and unlike Starbucks one needs only to purchase 10, rather than 15 drinks, to earn her first cup of heaven.
But then I proceeded to follow a map delineated in the New York Times Dining & Wine section. It details the best and brightest coffee shops within the five boroughs, and it promised to offer more than any mermaid-logo store ever had before. My next stop, which conveniently was located directly across the street from my office of summer employment, was Birch Coffee. Birch is known for its “drip coffee,” or unique signature blend. My drink of choice– the Red Eye, because even in the midst of summer vacation, I found myself taking in less than six hours of sleep a night. And yes, the Red Eye is a combination of the drip and espresso shots. It’s like an IV of caffeine, but without the needles.
Thoroughly enjoying my bout of infidelity, I continued on to Ninth Street Espresso, a glorious little coffee house in the midst of Alphabet City, a slightly grimey neighborhood, but with a strong and defined character. There I enjoyed the house cappuccino, which contained the perfect ratio of espresso to textured steamed milk. In that moment and in that shop, I was one with the Italian coffee gods. And it was good.
Now I am back in New York for the long weekend, and instead of returning to a monogamous relationship with my coffee, I have decided to continue the string of sordid affairs. On tap, no sexual euphemism intended, are:
1. Cafe Grumpy, a shop conveniently located in Chelsea, the home of my New York aspiring gay actor confidantes.
3. And finally, Abraco Espresso, an Espresso Bar the size of my pinky finger, also located in the East Village. Despite its small frame (literally), it is home of the best Portuguese caffeine west of the Iberian Peninsula.
Now I know that many of you may believe my adulterous ways to be immoral, deceitful, and worthy of punishment from the One Above. But, I must, as all Hollywood-stylized adulterers do, justify or attempt to excuse my infidelity. As a senior at Wellesley, with a string of midterms, papers, and fellowship and graduate school applications looming on the immediate horizon, I need a constant flow of energy– even when I am unable to sleep the requisite eight hours a night. And ladies and gentlemen, caffeine is the only legal substance I know that can ensure I stay energized, alert, and organized.
Now I could technically rely on only one source of caffeine. Instead of drifting from one coffee shop to another, I could maintain said flow of energy while enjoying a seat in a well-heated Starbucks. But, honestly, where would be the blog story in that?
I leave you with a video that encapsulates my life of unlawful activity: