I live in Little Italy. Arguably the demographic these days is more like Little Malaysia, but the majority of the restaurants and cafes in the area are Italian. The Italians - of course - renowned for making good coffee. If it wasn't for the Italians, Australia would be in the same sad state that America is with regard to coffee - where espresso machines are exotic and percolated is the norm. In Australia everywhere has an espresso machine, even the dingiest shitty highway diner. Pretty much only 7/11 holds out - even McDonalds coffee is espresso. All in all, considering we're not in Europe, we have it pretty damn good here.
But here's where it falls down. Take-out coffee. Seriously.
Since visiting Vancouver and Seattle i've become a total Starbucks convert. Sure, their coffee is burnt, but it's consistent and you order something sweet so it's like a nice little treat in the morning before work. Get an extra shot and extra hot and it's fine to take on your commute. Unfortunately, the Starbucks in Carlton is THE WORST in Melbourne. Case in point. This morning i walk down to Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf to grab a morning coffee and they're closed for renovations. Too bad, they normally make an alright cup. I figure i'll risk the Carlton Starbucks - really, how bad can it be? Every time i've been there in the past they screw up the order, burn the milk, take forever, you name it, but surely they would've improved by now. Today i walked up there and waited for about 3 minutes while the girl at the counter loaded croissants and whatnot into the food cabinet. I was right in front of her, as were two other customers, and she just continued loading. Hey - i don't care if the coffee takes a while, just take my order at least - acknowledge i'm here! So i left. And went into one of the "real" coffee shops on Lygon St.
By this point i'm pretty pissed because i missed out on two coffee places already. But hey. This is the heart of Little Italy. It doesn't get any more Italian. This is coffee heaven, right? Wrong! Their largest take-out cup is about the size of a Pepto-Bismol cap. Awesome. I'll take it anyways. Do you do chai? Oh sure we do chai. No, i mean like a chai latte. Sure sure. Next thing they're putting a fucking teabag into the cup. A $4 teabag? Gimme a break. Can i have an extra strong mocha? You know. Like. WITH AN EXTRA SHOT IN IT. Apparently that got missed somewhere along the line. They still charged me $9 for two tiny coffees and a croissant. The croissant apparently fresh according to the European behind the counter, who clearly wouldn't know a fresh croissant if it hit her in the face. Which, really, is what i wanted to do once i got home and took a sip of my water-y chocolate milk and J took a sip of her water-y soy milk. I just about cried. We're living in Carlton of all places, and noone can make decent take-out besides Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf - which is a fucking American chain! Go figure.
Don't get me wrong. Sitting down for coffee in Carlton is usually okay. But then, when i sit down i always order a straight up coffee (aka a "long black" or "americano" depending on the cafe - i just call it a fucking coffee - i mean, really). It's hard to fuck up regular coffee. Either it's strong enough or it isn't - done. But with take-out i expect an experience - it's not just the coffee, it's also the syrup or chocolate or whatever they add, the milk, the whip - it's gotta be fuckin right. I mean, you are paying $5+ for something that costs them pennies to make. Plus the cup needs to be big, it's gotta have a stable top, the works. It's not just turn on the espresso machine and serve it with a biscotti and maybe they won't notice how shit it is. Fuck!
So we took the tram downtown for Starbucks. Which is fucking pathetic if you think about it. Carlton need to get their act together. We're close enough to downtown that they should understand people expect decent take-out. Man. It's no wonder i hardly ever go that way. Everyone when they hear where i live say "wow you must go out for coffee and Italian food all the time, you're so lucky!" Little do they know. They make better coffee downtown, they make better food downtown, it's cheaper downtown, and downtown is less than 10 blocks away!
There's my "blog this" for the week. Next weekend i'm taking J on a secret getaway for her birthday. Noone knows where it is yet; she'll be the first to find out when we get to the airport :-) Work is ridiculously busy, both with the sprint to get the current release out bug-free, and with my gearing up for the next release, which i'm managing. My promotion came through - with a raise, which was very unexpected. It's all quite high-pressure, but it's going to be worth it for the money, which is all going into savings for the move to Canada, whenever that may eventuate. Eh, fuck work. Trying to relax this weekend, and especially next weekend.
I need to grab these moments of peace so i don't get stressed out. Had some kind of weird gastro or something since Thursday - i'm pretty sure it's stress-related. I wonder if i might be developing IBS with the amount of ooky tummy days i've had over the past few months. Imodium's my best friend. TMI, okay, i know. Back to the good news...
I'm in love. Yay.