Okay, I’ll admit it. I spend a lot of money on coffee. An obscene amount. Almost every day. Sometimes twice a day. Sometimes twice in the same coffee place.
Financial advisors would admonish me. Self-help books write chapters about me.
But here’s the way I see it. I don’t smoke. I drink wine on occasion. Or, on a Tuesday afternoon in the presence of my children when technically it should be considered a medical coping remedy so it should be filed under my insurance. I’m working on that.
And, because I’m a freelancer, I spend a ton of time alone. So I think of coffee houses as my office and the people who work there as my extended family. And you’re supposed to spend money on family, right? Coffee culture is also a great way to meet other people. To eavesdrop. To get fodder for articles. Or to simply feel connected.
They all have their unique vibes, too. Suburban coffee houses are filled with tennis moms, people having ‘meetings’ or businesspeople with spreadsheets. Lots of spreadsheets. Sometimes I play a game with myself and try and figure out where the people work before their meeting actually starts just by the look of their spreadsheets. You can often tell by what they’re wearing. Blue shirts with khaki pants: Home Depot or regional sales. Suits: lawyers. Chicos or Eileen Fisher ensembles: therapists. Then, there are the older guys who meet up for breakfast and talk politics. They’re usually in plaid or short sleeved button downs. Not attractive, those short sleeved button downs.
In-town coffee shops bring out the renegades. The artists. The people with nose rings. Photographers having meetings with clients. Producers making deals. Or hip urban moms who are a size 2 after giving birth yesterday. I have a hard time working at these places because even though the vibe is much more hip than in the ‘burbs and I feel cool by osmosis, it’s way too loud so I can’t concentrate. But every now and then when I need to change my office surroundings I head there.
I’m also very self-conscious about my coffee order. There’s a drink I like called the Salted Caramel Mocha at Starbucks. Have you tried it yet? It’s off the chain. But it’s way too sweet. And filled with calories. 42o to be exact. So, in my nicest voice, I ask them to cut the pumps in half and make it non-fat and leave off the whipped cream. Only thing is, I feel like a jerk when they call out my order:
“Grande, nonfat, 2.5 pump toffee, 2.5 pump mocha salted caramel latte with no-whip.”
So I hide. I actually go outside for a few minutes and return to find my lowly drink sitting on the counter where I can grab it without anyone seeing me and thinking that I’m “one of those drink orderers.” They’re so high maintenance. Right?
Anyway, I know I need to start saving money so I’ll try to start making more coffee a home. Not.
My two favorite coffee houses are The Coffee Bean in Los Angeles and The Cupping Room Cafe in New York City. Worth a try if you’re ever in one of those places. I highly recommend the ‘no sugar added vanilla latte’ from Coffee Bean and just a big phat cup ‘o joe at Cupping Room Cafe (full menu too!).
So what’s for dinner, you ask? Um, I have no clue. After all, it’s only 4 pm and we don’t start thinking about that in our family until at least 6 pm. So no menu for today. But I will leave you with something sinful that goes great with any coffee anywhere in the entire world. Hands down the best chocolate, chocolate chip cookies anywhere.
Not my recipe, so no credit for me. I’m just the messenger today. They’re from Dorie Greenspan, master baker.
DORIE GREENSPAN’S COCOA CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES
- 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 3/4 cups unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon salt (go for 1 1/4 teaspoons if you really like salt)
- 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 cup sugar
- 2/3 cup (packed) light brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 2 large eggs
- 12 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped into chips, or 2 cups chocolate chips or chunks (I used mini semi-sweet chips)
- 1 cup finely chopped walnuts or pecans (I omitted)
- Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
- Line two baking sheets with parchment or silicone mats.
- Whisk together the flour, cocoa, salt and baking soda and keep close at hand.
- Working in a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter on medium speed for about 1 minute, until smooth.
- Add the sugars and beat for another 2 minutes or so, until well blended.
- Beat in the vanilla.
- Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat for 1 minute after each egg goes in.
- Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the dry ingredients in 3 portions, mixing only until each addition is incorporated. On low speed, or by hand with a rubber spatula, mix in the chocolate and nuts. (The dough can be covered and refrigerated for up to 3 days or frozen. If you’d like, you can freeze rounded tablespoons of dough, ready for baking. There’s no need to defrost before baking – just add another minute or two to the baking time.)
- Spoon the dough by slightly rounded tablespoonfuls onto the baking sheets, leaving about 2 inches between spoonfuls.
- Bake the cookies – one sheet at a time and rotating the sheet at the midway point – for 10 to 12 minutes, or until they are set around the edges; they may still be a little soft in the middle, and that’s just fine. Pull the sheet from the oven and allow the cookies to rest for 1 minute, then carefully, using a wide metal spatula, transfer them to racks to cool to room temperature.
- Repeat with the remainder of the dough, cooling the baking sheets between batches.