Cafecito


I grew up with coffee. I learned how to make it for my parents. I was the picture child for a Folger’s commercial with the percolator, no sugar, no cream, please. Black. That’s how my parents took their coffee. I, liked hot tea, thanks to my Tia Nana, who served it to me with plenty of sugar when I was a teenager, newly arrived to the States from the Philippines, where my dad had been stationed. It was not until I was a young mother, working for my father in a family janitorial business, did I start drinking coffee. Not just any coffee…styrofoam cupped, sat on the burner all night until four am when I stopped by, who knows what brand, Seven-Eleven coffee.

I blame my mom for my love for gourmet coffee There was a period in the 1980’s when my dad worked for an American company in Saudi Arabia. Wives were not allowed on this overseas job, so my parents met in Spain or Portugal during this time. It was on one of these trips that my mom discovered espresso and cappuccino. When she returned home, she would compare the coffee houses we would frequent to how the espresso was brewed and served, how the cappuccino were either dusted with cinnamon or nutmeg, or the height of the froth and the difference between a latte and a cappuccino.

I was trying gourmet coffee at Pannikins in Encinitas, Crooked Crow at UTC and the Embaradero, and cappuccino at the Red Lion Hotel brunch cafe, and any indi coffee house I could find between Poway and Carlsbad. Carlsbad Roasting Company, a little sliver of sidewalk and building that roasted coffee onsite. I would take my Sunday paper and sit outside the cafe, less than a block from the Pacific.

When Starbucks took over a lot of the indi houses, including the renowned Pannikins, I, remarkably did not boycott the coffee giant. For some reason it did equate with Safeway or Gallo to me. I drank the proverbial koolaid…or white chocolate mocha, in this instance. Maybe I was too jaded, maybe I had hung up my protest shoes…maybe I just liked the taste of Starbuck’s French Roast more than any other make of French Roast!

I think the funniest side trip I ever made was on the I-85 from Evansridge to Pensacola, looking for a Starbucks off the highway just east of Atlanta. I took an offramp thinking I had seen the Starbuks logo on a billboard and it turned out to be a dairy of some kind. It wasn’t until almost Montgomery, Alabama, that I found a Panera Bread to get a decent cappuccino that I didn’t have to use map quest to find. Ironically, when I did the same trip with my daughter she recommended I get off at an offramp not far from the dairy. This offramp had restaurants like PF Changs and Cheesecake Factory, and sure enough, a block from the restaurants was a Starbucks. My kids will tell you another story about me obsessively looking for a Starbucks in Sacramento on the way home to Oceanside, but that is too embarrassing for me to recount. I will let them tell it at the next family get together, when they get to the part of the conversation “the dumbest thing Mom ever did” time. Until then, I am happily drinking my cafecito…smell that French Roast brewing?

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