I drink black coffee. In truth, I prefer Moccona to complicated. Therefore the difference between a latte and a flat white has been a mystery to me, and as for cappucino – I wouldn’t have known one had it jumped up and bitten me on the nose.
Those carefree days have come to an end. On free weekends, I run away to a bar owned by friends in the south. It’s great to get away and do something completely different. All care and no responsibility, and I love dealing with the public. Unfortunately, some of the public enjoy dealing with coffee – hence my crash course in barista training.
Anja spent hours yesterday trying to teach me how to make coffee.
She’s a beautiful, tolerant soul with espresso toned hair, enormous beautiful mocha brown eyes, smoothy creamy skin and a sweet personality. When it comes to coffee, Anja is a member of the cognoscenti. I am a member of the idiot brigade.
“Why isn’t it coming out?” I wailed, trying unsuccessfully to make a takeaway flat white with a single shot and three sugars for our most demanding regular customer.
“What have you done this time?” she said with a sigh.
“I have absolutely no idea. Shall I put this in here, give it a bang and try it again?”
She turned towards me at the point and walked towards what I can only describe as the cardboard bazooka I had unwittingly created from a takeaway cup and the industrial strength coffee machine.
“Sue, what have you done?” she repeated, peering into the container.
“BOOM” it replied.
Her face was a picture. So was her neck, her chest, her top, arms, torso – so in fact was the entire bar.
Little blobs of coffee grounds peppered every visible surface.
“Ow,” said Anja, or words to that effect. And for a moment the world fell silent.
“I’m so sorry,” I wailed, “does it hurt? And while you’re thinking about that would you mind if I got my camera?”
She stood there, gazing at me, all big brown eyes and little brown blobs of coffee. Behind her, the snorting of elephants came from the end of the bar. Our most demanding regular customer was trying not to sob with laughter. He didn’t do very well. Nor did the customers at the other end. The entire bar gazed in wonderment at our pepper potted beauty as I slowly picked morsels of Arabica’s finest from her person, apologising and ever so slightly weeping with suppressed laughter as I went.
“I’m sorry I’m sorry I’m sorry I’m sorry” I chanted for the rest of the day. “Can I make you a flat white to make up for it? How about a moccacino? Hot chocolate? By the way you’ve missed a bit in your hair. Come here. Oh sorry – it’s hardened off. Would you like me to cut that bit out?”
She was very sweet and very forgiving and said she didn’t mind at all that I’d just given her favourite shirt a makeover. I suspect that’s not the whole truth but as she refused to accept my offer of a new one I’m going to have to sneak one up on her when she least expects it.
It is snowing in Dunedin, so today’s lesson is going to be in hot chocolate and Irish coffee. Anja has come prepared. She’s wearing a black and white spotted outfit and a wary expression.
“What did your boyfriend say when you told him what happened?” Kim asked her.
Anja frowned. “He gave me a cuddle and asked me if I’d been serving a lot of coffee.” She gave me the look. Across the bar ran a ripple of suppressed sniggering.
“Anja didn’t serve as much as Sue did,” someone whispered.
The airport has now shut and the chances of getting home are slim. We could be in for a long one.
I suspect it could involve snowballs. And Anja.
To be fair – it is her turn with the bazooka.