I am not a coffee snob. I treat it like I do pizza: No matter how bad it is, it's still pizza.
Logically, this means I love pizza coffee, right? No. I don't drink flavored coffee, because coffee is a flavor unto itself. "Would you like some coffee whose robust taste is muffled by the chemical simulation of hazelnuts?" Oh, sure! Give me some bananas that taste like hamburger, while you're at it.
This isn't snobbery. It's just an appreciation of coffee's inherent appeal. The snobs, if you ask me, are the people who won't drink ordinary coffee, or who rave about something that tastes like boiled flannel. "Try this! The beans are as obscure and bitter as a college prof who published one novel in 1973 to good reviews but scant sales. It tastes like incinerated donkey hoof."
What's my favorite, you ask? The stuff that goes for $6.99 but is now $4.99 with the loyalty card, if you buy three. That stuff is awesome. I also like espresso for those moments when you want only two sips before it's gone. But in addition to the coffee, you have to savor the work it requires. It's like milking a cow for five minutes to get a thimble's worth.
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Enter the fancy new pod coffeemaker: the Nespresso. The machines have been around for a while, but the early ones were huge; you had to swing that thing out of the cupboard with a block and tackle. The new machines are slim, and I can tell there's a big push to get one of these things into every home. In the large red-themed circular-icon retailer that will go unnamed, I saw a new display in the coffee aisle.
The big selling point: They use pods. Not K-Cups. Those are over. Everyone's making espresso with pods now.
If you're not drinking pod coffee you might as well be pouring two tablespoons of Butter-Nut in your Mr. Coffee and adding six cups of water, because compared with pod coffee, everything else is Lutheran church basement coffee, whose primary attribute is transparency.
Are pods different from K-cups? Why, yes. The espresso pods are beautiful. Richly hued aluminum capsules the color of chocolates that you would find on your hotel pillow in Monte Carlo after you broke the bank.
I decided to go over to the Pod Side because it would provide my life with the illusion of novelty that sustains you through times of ungrateful boredom. Let's see, I'm restless and dissatisfied. Should I examine my life with a pitiless eye and make changes, or get a new appliance?
Like that's a tough one.
The only reason I bring this up is to offer a primer on espresso nomenclature, because pods are so pretentious that they make coffee snobs look like people who drink gas station coffee with six cups of "Irish" flavored "creamer."
(Which is pretty good on a cold day.)
The pods have different strengths, and they can't just use the sliding scale – you know, mild-to-bold. (You have to love that by mild, they mean weak. We all know it. But it's a nice euphemism. Next time you can't open a jar, hand it to someone and say, "Do you mind? I'm too mild.") They have to have names that sound like someone was force-fed an Italian thesaurus and then hooked up to a car battery.
I half-understand the Peet's brand called "Crema Scura." The Crema is the nice foam on the top of the drink, and "scura" is ... a kind of crema? Obscure, perhaps. It sounds like an all-purpose fake Italian you'd say to indicate surprise and dismay: "Ai, crema-scura, whaddyagonna do?"
Then there's the whole size thing. There's no small, medium and large. Oh, no. Not in Podland. Memorize this list: Ristretto (25 ml); Expresso (40 ml), which is not to be confused with espresso unless you want the barista to sneer, and Lungo (110 ml). "I want a Lungo" makes it sound like you're a lunatic who bursts gasping into the transplant ward.
Don't mistake the sizes for a measure of the drink's punch. If that were the case, Ristretto would have "small" flavor, but it's the highest on the 10-point Intensity scale.
The Target brands have fancy names, as well. I bought a box of Altissimo, which, incidentally, is a 9 on a scale of 12, indicating there are no agreed-upon standards for intensity. If someone asks you how strong you want your Lungo, be sure to ask if they're using the Base 10 or Base 12 system.
Why the fancy names? Because that's what Nespresso does. My machine came with a box of capsules with fancy names. Some of these I might have gotten wrong because I had a caffeine buzz on at the time.
In short, they're the Italian equivalent of Ikea furniture names.
Then again, when I'm sitting in my Farlov armchair, admiring my books in the Gnedby shelves, sipping a Vivalto, I feel good about my life. Could be worse. I could be drinking Folger's, for heaven's sake.
Actually, their new 1850 blend is pretty good. But I'd have to call it something else around company. Would you like a Folggerio? "Yes, please! Expresso size."