Saturday, August 16, 2008

froth 4 free

One thing I’ve learned over this past week, and that is there ain’t no such thing as a free coffee!

Or to be more precise, that should be qualified as a ‘decent’ free coffee.

On Monday, bustling into the campus during my mid-afternoon lunch break I noticed three portable signboards, each figuring attractive orange posters with white & black interspersed text, century gothic font…

enjoy rich velvety FREE FROTHY café coffee

I peered to my left, across the walkway leading to the Squarehouse courtyard, and there it was, an attractive looking orange stall the size of a large open tent, with a queue of eager persons lining up for their free frothy.
‘Hmph’ I silently ventured to myself, and led on straight ahead.

By Tuesday, my curiosity was piqued enough. Against my better judgement, I decided to forgo my daily regal ritual of an afternoon expresso, allowing myself to be lured by a ‘freebie’ in the form of the aforementioned free frothy café coffee.

The queue was long, comprising mostly of students. In front of me were two men in their fifties, likely lecturers, engaged in vibrant conversation. A couple walking past the line flashed their matching tight, sardonic grimaces in our general direction. A blue mist of paranoia swept silently around me. I almost felt a little grubby to be standing in this queue; similar to the feeling I’ve had of those few occasions I’ve stood in line waiting to purchase lottery tickets for some supersized windfall. At those times I couldn’t help but turn around to gaze at people’s expressions waiting in line. Everyone had that same subtle tightness of expression, with a faint look that some unpleasant odour had been cast under their noses. I wondered if this expression masked some kind of quiet desperation, how desperately did these people – myself included – desired or needed 10 million bucks. I’ve decided since, in answer to my own question, not really…maybe a little bit, but no, not really, not 10 million. Needless to say I rarely purchase lottery tickets these days.

I suppose the obsenity lies, no matter how apparently insignificant, in the whole thing of wanting to get something for free, and giving nothing in return. My karma does not allow for such liberties, I have discovered through the course of my living lifetime.

I tightened my scarf and bowed my attention to my sudoku puzzle, pen whistling in all directions amidst the afternoon wind as I attempted to deduce the missing numbers, twisting a few brain cells in the process.

Three young, attractive, friendly people were servicing the free coffee, each standing behind small boiling-water bowsers. As I advanced in the queue I realised the coffee was actually a major brand promoting ‘boutique’ instant coffee. There were many flavours and ‘styles of coffee’ to choose from. I decided on ‘skinny latte’. Everyone was asked the same question, ‘how’s your day been?’

Finally, standing in the stall to order my free frothy. The bubbly young woman behind my section of the counter asked me ‘how’s your day been?’

‘Good thank you, and yours?’

‘Great thanks!’

‘Do you work for N?’

‘No, we’re a public relations team!’

‘And you’re promoting N coffee for the week?’

‘Yes!’ – maintaining her gladness.

‘right’ – I nod solemnly.

After spending a short moment finding the correct box for my preferred flavour the nurse prepared my coffee with almost surgical precision; pouring the contents of the cylindrical sachet into a disposable cup, taking up a plastic stirrer, stirring up the contents in newly poured boiling water, finally disposing of the stirrer within the used sachet and into the correct bin. I felt I was an outpatient visiting a hospital tent. I was handed the coffee.

‘Thank you very much and have a great day’.

The stuff was revolting, tasting like bicarbonate soda with flavoured hints of imitation coffee and notes of curdled milk for good measure. I don’t mind straight-ahead instant coffee occasionally but this stuff was appalling. Fucking lame actually. Made me feel queasy all afternoon. The ‘froth’ was merely a dozen bubbles that hung around on the surface of the beverage for way too long.

My afternoon coffee is my prize for working. It is a personal pact I’ve made with myself, my own daily personal reward for being at the job, my work-a-day indulgence, my treat. I’m leo the lion when it comes to my afternoon coffee. I feel my mane glow and softly shine in the afternoon light as the expresso sates my taste buds, mood, and quite simply, my chronic caffeine addiction. I do wonder if a lot of other people feel the same way. Perhaps that’s why people seem noticeably impatient when standing in line for their coffee.

This ‘free frothy’ was actually not free at all. Its value was such that we should have been paid to drink this stuff! And handsomely too. Standing in line to purchase a lottery ticket potentially gives vaster rewards than standing in line for a free quease. Never again. There ain’t no such thing as a decent, free coffee!


veleska1970 said...

sorry your "free" experience was so kablooey. it appears that they can't even give that stuff away!! but they are smart to test it like that before they try to sell it. they would lose even more money if they tried to sell it and people don't buy it.

" I do wonder if a lot of other people feel the same way."
**raises hand** i do!!! i LOOOOOVVVVE coffee. not so much for the caffeine but for the enjoyment of the flavour of it. :)

Polydora said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Polydora said...

Coffee is definitely an emotional addiction for me. In a busy world where my days are filled with "have to's," my coffee, I justify, is the thing (mind you not very healthy) I give myself. Emotionally it's nurturing, but I think ultimately how much better for me if I were addicted to let's say oat straw tea!

Coffee. I love it. I'm its number one fan.


love the story. Instant coffee is only good when you've been camping so long your taste buds no longer give a shit; even then, you must add all that cotton oil non-dairy creamer just to cover up the fowl burnt taste!

ross b said...

'Oat straw tea' huh?? - now that's something I gotta get around to trying!! :) lol...i do like herbal teas though, of all types generally.

Come to think of it you're right in saying that instant coffee tastes good after a long bout of hiking and camping. I hunger for it on those occasions, liquid gold in a thermal-flask.

I withdrew from coffee once at a health farm stay...that was very, very difficult (I was losing it a bit! - horrible headaches and getting almost delusional.)

Coffee may not be utterly healthy but for comfort, satisfaction, flavour, mood-enhancement, and a kick-start to the morning/afternoon, all combined, nothing beats it!

And it makes "bustling about" all the more bearable.

Anonymous said...

I've gotta say that I'm not into coffee that much (an occassional macchiato here and there) but I am totally and utterly addicted to chocolate. Horrible stuff for the voice, my teacher says, but absolute heaven for the soul. Like one of the chicks on Jamie Oliver's series "Oliver's Twist" said, eating chocolate makes me feel like I'm in love. Yeah - with chocolate!!!

Take care,
The Knitting Songbird

eek said...

I've never been much of a coffee person...except for coffee ice cream. Preferably coffee ice cream with big hunks of chocolate -- especially Graeter's Mocha Chip. That is pure heaven. Totally bad for you, but it tastes soooooooooo good it's worth it!

ross b said...

ah, chocolate is another universe onto itself, i love it but don't eat it, mainly 'cause i gotta maintain glucose levels...but i don't miss it so that's fine.

Had 3 coffees today, and needed every single one of them, and God they were good!(had a late one last night)

um, Mary, didn't you work for 'N' at one stage??

veleska1970 said...

did someone say chocolate?? AAAAAAAAHHHHHHH!! **experiences euphoria** i love chocolate.


Anonymous said...

Yeah, I did work for the big 'N'. I'm not a huge fan of their products (ok, I admit, I wouldn't say no to a box of Cailler chocolates or a bottle of San Pellegrino ;) but their instant cappuccinos and frothy drinks are really horrible. They're full of all sorts of crap, cancer just waiting to happen. Make one and leave it on the kitchen sink for half an hour - you'll never want to drink one again!

I've been a veg for over 3 years now and occasionally ate 'junk' but after having read 'Not on the label' and 'Eat your heart out', I've given up on junk and changed my eating habits forever. I now make my own bread, jam, ketchup, pickles, bla, bla, bla 'cause all the stuff in the supermarkets is of questionable quality - both tastewise (once you've tried homemade) and healthwise (once you've read the label). Like one reviewer of the books said, they're great for people on a diet - read the books and you'll completely lose your appetite!!!

Take care and eat wise,
The Knitting Songbird


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