Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: The conversation they want to have

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  • Sam F,

    I presume you meant *hic* :P

    Sorry, perhaps not - for some reason read eeepc as "Epic", not "PC"...

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1607 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso,

    Perhaps the solution to London coffee is simply to take your own machine.

    A friend of mine got kicked out of a cafe in France by asking to be allowed to make his own coffee. He was still going to pay, but the machine was the regular Gaggia kind and he just couldn't stand to see it be abused one more time. The owners didn't take it as constructive criticism.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7473 posts Report Reply

  • Heather Gaye,

    1. It brings better coffee to the poor unfortunate natives, who know not what they drink.
    2. It makes you appreciate how hard it actually is to make the kind of coffee we like.

    I was on a train and there was a group of extremely smooth 20-year-olds sitting opposite me. At one point, the coolest, smoothest(, prettiest) boy stood up & asked if anyone else wanted tea. They all did. They all sat around being cool & smooth and drinking tea. The natives don't drink coffee.

    One of my hosts made a comment about just starting a part-time job in a cafe, and learning how to make the coffee. The way she described it, she was as familiar with espresso as operating an alien spaceship.

    I really think it's less about not knowing what they're missing and more just an ingrained cultural disinterest in coffee, in the sense of the urban national identity we've elevated our coffee cult(ure) to.

    Morningside • Since Nov 2006 • 531 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    The French are not famous for liking criticism. But I can't think of anyone who is. I can think of a dozen reasons why I wouldn't let a random stranger from some unknown backwater get behind my counter, much less touch my expensive machine. But kicking them out? Non!

    Much though I hate to say it, I think this approach would probably work better in America than it would in Europe. They'd take it only as a criticism of their ineptitude, rather than their entire culture and history.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10488 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso,

    I really think it's less about not knowing what they're missing and more just an ingrained cultural disinterest in coffee, in the sense of the urban national identity we've elevated our coffee cult(ure) to.

    This is the part where I tell you all (again! "On the Internet nobody can punch you on the side of the head") about the Neapolitan custom of sometimes paying for an extra coffee when you have yours so that somebody who might not be able to afford later that day will be able to have one free not just on the house, but on the community as it were. Just to highlight that over there (and it's a place that has been gripped for centuries by the most dreadful poverty, not what you'd call espresso-sipping elites), the "tazzulella 'e cafè" is regarded as a basic human right.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7473 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    I really think it's less about not knowing what they're missing and more just an ingrained cultural disinterest in coffee, in the sense of the urban national identity we've elevated our coffee cult(ure) to.

    For certain. It's a bit like how most people feel when some car enthusiast criticizes the slightest slackness in one's car care. Seinfeld took it to beautiful hyperbole in one episode, where his mechanic actually kidnaps his car because he has failed to swap his wheels around periodically, and everyone knows that 51% of turns are to the right (in the US), so the wheels wear down unevenly.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10488 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    Gio, how does that work? Does the owner give the free coffee as he sees fit?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10488 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso,

    There are regular customers who simply never pay for their coffee - it removes the unpleasantness of having to go begging for it. Or somebody could walk into a bar and ask "is there a paid-for coffee?" and the barista will say yes or no.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7473 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    Does he tend to say yes or no based on an evaluation of the person asking? Or is it fairly automatic, anyone who wants a free one can have it?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10488 posts Report Reply

  • JackElder,

    Indeed. In NZ, the fact that I don't drink coffee has occasionally caused people to look at me funny. I've even been (semi-jokingly) accused of being pretentious for not drinking coffee. In the UK, it was a complete non-issue.

    On the other hand, not drinking alcohol in NZ isn't a big deal, but in the UK people often seemed to regard it as letting the side down in some way. That's the difference between our cultures right there: the cafe vs the pub as the default social venue.

    My workplace has serious, plumbed-in, cafe-style coffee machines. It's not unknown for old hands to gently remove the milk frother from newbs and give them a quiet lesson in how to "texture" the milk rather than just blasting steam through it like an airplane taking off.

    Wellington • Since Mar 2008 • 708 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso,

    Does he tend to say yes or no based on an evaluation of the person asking? Or is it fairly automatic, anyone who wants a free one can have it?

    I don't know the workings quite so intimately, but I think asking if you didn't need to would be frowned upon.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7473 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    A friend of mine got kicked out of a cafe in France by asking to be allowed to make his own coffee. He was still going to pay, but the machine was the regular Gaggia kind and he just couldn't stand to see it be abused one more time. The owners didn't take it as constructive criticism.

    I have been tempted to do that myself on occasion. That and fiddle with the grinder settings or give the machine a much-needed backflush.

    For all that we talk up our coffee culture, there are still plenty of places where they manage to get a bad cup out of the good machines.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22227 posts Report Reply

  • Heather Gaye,

    Gio, I love that system SO MUCH! If I thought it would be useful here I'd start doing it straight away. As it is, I guess I buy coffee for my impoverished friends regularly enough to feel like I'm doing my part.

    give the machine a much-needed backflush.

    This.

    Morningside • Since Nov 2006 • 531 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    Does the owner give the free coffee as he sees fit?

    I've had that deal going at times with some regular venues - up to them to decide who to donate to, and I get the warm feeling of helping a fellow addict in need.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19413 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    I have been tempted to do that myself on occasion

    I managed to wheedle my way behind a workplace cafe's large machine often driven by self-confessed unskilled staff, only to find it was so automated that there was no room to finesse anything. Harumph.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19413 posts Report Reply

  • Zach Bagnall,

    Late to the party but I much prefer Flat White's sister cafe, Milkbar, 3 mins walk away on Bateman St. Same coffee but with the exciting possibility of actually getting a seat.

    Also Lantana up near Googe St. Good food.

    Colorado • Since Nov 2006 • 114 posts Report Reply

  • mark taslov, in reply to Islander,

    XY intersex people are frequently brought up as female (especially if the genitalia are tiny/ambiguous or some parts surgically removed in infanthood…approximately 1 in 1000 people are intersex individuals.

    As high as 1.9% of the population in recent studies. Regardless of their kayrotype, it's common for intersex people to be stitched up and raised as female for the very simple reason it's easy to build a vagina than a penis and more seemly to assign "God decreed" binary gender prematurely. These practices persist despite research showing that gender dysphoria generally affects between 8.5–20% of individuals with DSD compared to 1-2% in the wider population and despite John Money's abject failure with David Reimer in the 1960s.

    Te Ika-a-Māui • Since Mar 2008 • 2117 posts Report Reply

  • mark taslov, in reply to mark taslov,

    stitched up and raised as female

    kind of.

    Te Ika-a-Māui • Since Mar 2008 • 2117 posts Report Reply

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