Coffee Spritzer

How about zinging up a nicely roasted cup of coffee with some sweet, flavored syrup as a spritzer to turn a dull day into a sunny, fun day? Here is a recipe you might like along with a strange story of changing names and brands and an upset in the regular routine.

Dark, Uhm, Medium Build

Last week, I ventured forth to my favorite local coffeehouse in search of a decent blend and a nice adventure. It is rare that I drink coffee outside of the house since the January hike of coffeehouse prices across the country, despite the price of coffee beans being lower than they have been in twenty years.

Still, every once in a while I enjoy saddling up to the "bar" and ordering my usual, one medium cup of Sumatra, black. As I crossed the busy street, covered with melting snow, I looked with glee to the friendly sign that for 15 months of my life in this strange town has kept me from running back to where I started; Mochatopia.

Simple, understated and oh, so divine!

It took me one full car lane before my eyes were forced to refocus and my mouth quirked up into a sneer. My dear old standby had been replaced, by a coffeehouse of another name; a French sounding name. Now, I am an avid things of all things French, but La Blah did not evoke the same hearty feel as its counterpart.

Nevertheless, I was tired and in need of coffee and so in I went. Once at the "bar", I noticed that little had changed inside the coffeehouse. The menu was moved from the left to the right and there were a few new pieces of art.

There were simple, tolerable changes that didn't shake my sense of comfort.

Bad Excuse for a Price Hike

Yet, my favorite .75 cent Sumatra was now a "Gourmet Dark Roast, Indonesian Style", $1.75. These sorts of price hikes have been the most recent of trends in the world of coffeehouses, something about packaging and advertising sucking up profits and driving the prices beyond reason-things that a person starving for coffee has little time or energy to argue with. I ordered and took off my jacket to relax.

Behind me was a new row of computers, the fix of a generation so scared to miss out on socializing, they actually bring their phones with them-something I thought was far too Jetsons to ever catch on...alas, I was wrong. "How do you want it?" I was asked.

"Medium," was my vaguely disinterested reply.

Now, in the world of coffeehouses, a simple answer like "medium" is liable to draw out armed forces from behind the scones to rattle your head and demand more detail. I was aware of this fact, but I have also been fighting my own battle for the last 10 years of coffeehouse trend drinking...I only need a medium coffee. That's it.

Now, saying black hasn't helped, they still ask me about double tall grande slim cinnamon crusted something whathaveit. I have tried saying plain, but then they just ask plain what. So, I settle for medium.

It is written on the menu board quite clearly, thus allowing me the leeway to point and snidely remark in my defense, "medium", and hope they don't order me away. The waiter did in fact sneer back and I settled back into my chair with the comfortable notion that I would not be having a day filled with enjoyable coffee banter as I had just made yet another coffeehouse enemy.

Still, he plopped down my coffee and asked me if I wanted anything else. I didn't have the guts to ask for a cookie instead of biscotti. Too mean. Still, I drank and watched and listened. The music was a bluesy band, filled with woe about something they no longer had... I sympathized and listened intently.

The people around me were young and excited about upcoming concerts and the newest love of their lives, always a good way to pass the time. Yet, my eyes were troubled. The menu had grown, there were fewer blends of coffee but twice the concoctions.

Roasted Beverage Trends

I had been under the impression that the overdone trends of coffee drinks was on the wayside until a young woman walked in the door and ordered something I swore she had ordered in Armenian. Still, the waiter was able to decipher this, but strangely not medium?, and presented her with a rather grand drink in a large mug.

I had hoped that this was the most special drink on the menu and we would all stand on the bar and sing and cheer as she chugged it down before slapping the mug onto the table and slicing a notch into the wall. Instead, she collected her bag and sat at the table near the bathroom to read Men's Journal.

I finished my coffee and trotted home to think about my day. I had been so very disappointed about my coffeehouse changing, the prices being raised and the complications of ordering in a way I had thought died out with the big trousers fad. Yet, I had come away with a smile and a story, two things $1.75 can rarely buy you these days.

I think I might go back to La Blah again this week. So what about that recipe I promised?

Recipe: Coffee Spritzer



Add all ingredients to a Tom Collins glass and mix well. Top with a piece of candied ginger for added flavor.

Serves 1

For more insight into coffee and one's health, read Professor Silvio Garattini's book, "Caffeine, Coffee and Health" (Raven Press, New York, 1993).