Tag Archives: Starbucks

Richmond: First Impressions

1. It rains in Richmond! Quite a bit actually. It’s interfering with some soccer and tennis matches as of late, but we are forever grateful, having moved from a city whose water resources are severely strained to say the least. Richmond is a very green place, and we are still getting used to the leaves, the soft grass…the luxuries of nature.

2. People dress appropriate to the weather. We’re hard-pressed to find a hipster outside of the VCU campus, and he or she would never be caught dead in their skin-tight jeans in the summer time (because that’s just ridiculous Austin.)

An obnoxious Austin hipster

3. It’s even more southern than in Texas. One of my tennis team members actually asked me if we were “going to be back from our away match in time for the Cotillion party.” What’s more, Christian and I will be attending our first gala this Friday. I bought a long dress; he rented a tux. I’m hoping they don’t expect me to have a “hair-do,” because I’ll be coming straight from a tennis meet and it’s supposed to be as humid as a swamp in Georgia.

4) Starbucks is in hog heaven…and we are not. We miss local coffee shops! There’s nothing wrong with Starbucks. The staff is nice. They are quite successful at what they do. But I’m a strong coffee drinker, and my husband is a French press fiend, and Starbucks doesn’t do either of those. Also, it frustrates me that I can’t order a “small” coffee at Starbucks. Every time I ask for a small, they correct me and say “tall.” Huh? No comprendo.

6. Public radio might as well go off the air. No amount of pledge drives will save these people. All they talk about is politics (Washington, not local), and there isn’t decent music. Perhaps KUT should come out and hold a workshop on how to be a more global and more hip. I never thought I’d say it, but I miss John Aielli. Gasp!

7. Mexican food is only attainable if we’re willing to work for it. I love to cook, and I do make some mean migas. But there’s something special about rolling out of bed on a Saturday morning and being able to ask my husband about where to go get breakfast tacos. Needless to say, we’ve already planned our culinary itinerary for when we return to Texas for Thanksgiving. I think we can squeeze in at least two Mexican brunches and  one happy hour.

Thank the Lord on High for Curra's Mole

8. People are really nice here. In Richmond, even your boss invites you over for breakfast, and the Brooks Brothers sales rep writes you a thank you note. I missed an orientation meeting with the Assistant Director of the Middle School, and I asked to set a meeting to get caught up to speed. Instead of having me to her office, she invited me to her house for breakfast (my favorite meal of the day!). She actually made eggs (with all the fixin’s), coffee, fresh fruit, and bagels. I never knew work could be so scrumptious. About the Brooks Brothers bit…No joke. My husband really did receive a thank you letter from our sales rep after we bought him a new shirt and some ties for his teaching job. I know this guy just wants our business, but that’s still really nice.

9. Cab drivers double as tour guides. My brother-in-law Robert and his girlfriend Jane came to visit us recently. We took a cab downtown to the Capital Ale House for some brews and burgers. Little did we know that the real fun of the evening would not be had at the bar, but rather, on the cab ride downtown. Our driver apparently considered himself an amateur tour guide. He informed us that we lived on the “John Smith Trail” (true) and that Mr. Smith was a famous Civil War Captain (not true). Also, the Malvern Manor apartments – where Christian and I once applied to live, with other young folk – was apparently a retirement home for “old, rich doctors and lawyers” (not true). Last but not least, he had some particularly slandering things to say about the Arthur Ashe statue on Monument Ave and what “it had done to our Confederate history.” That was the last time we called for a cab in Richmond.

The Arthur Ashe Statue on Monument Ave in Richmond, VA

10. We managed to slip under the radar and gain access to the “Beverly Hills” of Richmond without having to undergo genetic testing or show proof of income. We live in the most gorgeous neighborhood right along the James River bank, which is lined with impressive homes. We happen to rent and are blessed with a little yard, a fire pit, two bedrooms and two baths! Our neighborhood has tall trees that are very green. Quite a change from Austin. We are so happy here!

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Being a Coffee Snob is Really Inconvenient

I love good coffee. I’m not a coffeeholic who hits up the local Starcorps (phraseology borrowed from Tina Fey) on a twice daily basis. Actually, I try to limit myself to less than one cup a day (you do the math), but I do appreciate the taste and “mouth feel” of extremely good coffee. By “good” I mean, well-raised, not-burnt, flawlessly-executed-by-a-career-barista coffee. Does this make me better than the average person? No. Does it make my life less convenient than yours? Yes. Allow me to explain…

So what if I can't make a rosetta with my froth? Barista-in-training here. Tips welcome.

Good coffee is expensive. The average price of Folgers ground coffee is around $0.30 – $0.40 per ounce (I looked it up on the interweb, okay?). The average price of whole bean coffee that tastes good and doesn’t have bits of ground up cockroach in it (more on that later) is about $0.60 – $0.80 per ounce. That’s double the price!!! “Ouch,” goes my pocket book.

Delicious coffee is complex and requires, yup, you guessed it…expensive equipment. Sure, a French press costs just $20, but what about a coffee grinder? That’s another $20. And that’s just the average blade grinder. Sooooo amateur. A sexy Burr coffee grinder that allows you to consistently grind all your beans to precisely the right coarseness (coarse for drip or French press, fine for espresso or Turkish style, otherwise known as “tasty sludge”) will run anywhere between $60 and $150. And what if you’re like I am and you’re married to someone who lives and dies by French press, but you have thick, rich espresso coursing through your veins? Well that means you have to have an espresso machine, silly! Breville Espresso Machine = $200. Thank God for wedding registries.

This is all the equipment that I need to make one cup of espresso (Not pictured here: microwave).

Oh, and since my paycheck actually qualifies me for food stamps (you’re probably scratching your head, thinking, why does she waste her money on $0.60/oz. coffee?!), I can’t splurge and buy myself a vintage Mazzurco espresso machine with a ridiculously powerful steamer. Instead of watching the grass grow every time I try to steam milk for my cappuccino using my novice home-espresso machine, I bought a milk frother (a.k.a., God’s gift to the world) for $20. All the pro baristas zap their milk in the microwave and then whip it with this battery-operated piece of genius, right? Totally hip.

The Aerolatte in action

So that brings the total value of my snobbish addiction to: $320 (as you can tell by my math, I opted for the cheap, $60 burr grinder. Food stamps people. Food stamps!). And this doesn’t even include the cost of coffee, mugs, a teapot (for my French press-loving hubby), and an Italian Bialetti stove-top espresso maker which I slaved over before the glorious days of Breville ownership.

Coffee for snobs takes forever to make. Now that I’ve assembled my coffee paraphenalia under one roof, I get down to business. First, I grind my beans (and I curse the grinder as it jams and spews coffee grinds all over my kitchen counter.) Second, I pack coffee grinds into a 2 oz. cup thingy (I’m sure there’s a more technical name for this) and attach it to the espresso machine. Third, I make the espresso. This sounds waaaaay less complicated than it actually is. In reality, I need to be sure I have the machine turned on way in advance, so that it has sufficient time to heat the water and I don’t get stuck with room temp. espresso. While I’m actually making the coffee, I have to “eyeball it” and make sure I don’t leave the machine on too long, lest I end up with a very watered down cup of Joe – think Starcorps.

This is my most-used wedding gift.

Crema to die for

While the espresso is pouring, I need to be heating up the milk in the microwave. Whilst… I turn the espresso machine off and then take the hot milk out of the nuker (tip: don’t burn the milk, it tastes really bad and mixing it with coffee will not cover up the burnt flavor). Now I froth the milk with the battery-operated gift from God, add espresso to a mug, then top with frothy milk, as desired.  I indulge while I dread the fourth and final reason why being a coffee snob is really inconvenient…

Doing dishes ≠ having fun

Did I mention cleanup? Run hot water through the espresso machine after each use. Ugh. Thanks instruction booklet. Clean drip tray. Clean 2 oz. cup that I’m sure has a more technical name. Clean milk frother. Clean glasses I used to make the espresso and froth the milk. Clean coffee grinder and coffee scoop. Clean counters that are littered with coffee grinds. Clean sink that is clogged with espresso grounds. Wash mug. Seriously consider how things got this bad and why I can’t just enjoy a cup of “the best part of waking up” already. Oh yea, the roach thing. Damn you NPR for exposing me to that horrid story! Did I mention that when I visit people I bring my own coffee because I know I’m not going to be able to stomach theirs? I’m such a snob. At least I don’t drop phrases like “single batch” and “estate grown” into my coffee parlance, yet…

Got beans?

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