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Back before all this espresso craze hit the country – in the age of dinosaurs – well, back when the oil in the gulf was still dinosaurs – I remember thinking that this whole espresso thing was just so stupid. I mean, I remember going into a place and asking for a cup of coffee, and they’d run down the a simple list for me.  Black? Cream? Sugar?

It was simple… Clear… Concise…

I was used to all that.

I liked it.

And then, it changed…(cue the dramatic, ominous music…)

I’d ask for a cup of coffee and they’d throw all these Italian words at me that made absolutely no sense whatsoever…

Venti? Macchiato? Frappucino? El Dorado? – no, wait, that’s Spanish…

Anyway, it was just tons of what I thought was idiocy, I just wanted a cup of coffee, you know, the kind where you find some berries, pit them, throw the berries away, dry, then burn the pits, smash them between some rocks, and then pour hot water over what’s left until the water turns brown.

You know… Simple… Clear… Concise…


WHOEVER came up with that whole concept was either a genius or… well, one of Rube Goldberg’s ancestors…

All I wanted was coffee…

Wait… let me rewrite that…

All… I… Wanted… Was… COFFEE.

Until the day someone bought me this…

…this …

…this creamy, heavenly mixture of coffee, foamed milk, and chocolate.

Ooooohhhh wow….

I remember the first time I pulled into an espresso stand – it had been a Fotomat booth years before – and was out in the middle of a parking lot.  I remember the car seemed to just drive itself into that parking lot.

…and I suddenly understood what addictions could be like….

I didn’t *need* a cup of coffee, but I *WANTED* a mocha.

Oh, man…

I’d grown up – oh – how to describe this right…  We weren’t swimming in money to the point where we needed life preservers – in fact, galoshes would have been overdoing it…  Come to think of it – a damp spot in the sidewalk would have been a better description of the finances I’d grown up with.

There was a tremendous difference between a “want” and a “need”.

Wants were optional.

Needs weren’t.

And for once in my life, I *wanted* something far more than I needed it, and I was about to act on that want…

Never had I scrounged around the seats for loose change unless I needed it.

But I did this day.

Never had I gone through the glove box for change unless it was necessary.

But I did this day.

And never had I put all the “emergency” money in the car to a single use that wasn’t an emergency.

But the definition of “emergency,” like it or not, was about to be redefined, and sometime later – I learned that this whole thing was just the beginning…

I worked at Microsoft for a few years, where they had a Starbuck’s inside one of the cafeterias – and I had no idea how to order anything other than “coffee” or the heavenly “Mocha”.

But there was this guy working there who had the job title “barista”, and he helped me out.

And I realized after a while that I could customize this whole thing… I could have more or less of something in there than is required by law, so to speak…

One day he did something weird – he made it really creamy – so that it wasn’t just milk and foam, but kind of a foamy mixture all the way through.  Somehow this involved banging the milk foamer thingie (they get paid to know this stuff, I don’t) on the counter, which somehow made the foam thicker.  It was wonderful – so we decided to go with that.

I realized I didn’t like quite as much mocha – or chocolate syrup – in  there (they put three pumps worth, which was a little too much for me) – and over the next few weeks, this barista and I figured out what it was I liked. (one pump)

It takes me a long time to decide what I like, but once I’ve decided, then that’s pretty much it.  So once we’d come up with what it was I liked, I didn’t have to think about it anymore.

And when I went to get my coffee (understand, getting coffee was free at Microsoft at the time, I was choosing to pay for it, and given my growing up, that was significant) – and I’d get the same thing, every day.  In fact, it got to the point where I didn’t even order it anymore, I’d just show up and it would be there – and I’d pay for it, we’d make small talk, and then I’d leave…

…with my little paper cup of heaven…

And then…

One day…

He was gone.

A new barista who didn’t know what I wanted was there.

I was stunned.

I had no idea how to order this – this… this paper cup full of dark, foamy heaven…

I was crushed.

No more heaven in a paper cup.

Shortly after that, I left Microsoft, and had to figure out how on earth to order this thing in the real world…

And over time, I was able to get a barista to explain to me how to order what it was that I wanted.

So when I got my next job, I went to the Starbucks across the street from work, and I ordered it the way I’d been told to order it.

(ready for this?)

“I’d like a double tall one pump mocha free pour wet cappuccino”

And I said it with a straight face.

Which was followed immediately by a look of total shock on that straight face.

“Oh my gosh,” thought I…

“I’m one of….. ‘THEM’”

The cashier dutifully filled out the little boxes on the paper cup

The Barista, who was juggling cups – stopped and looked over at me, got the order, and made the drink.

It was perfect.

Clearly I had to come back.

The next day – I wandered in with my buddy Jae and we each ordered our drinks… He ordered a hot chocolate.  I ordered a double tall one pump mocha free pour wet cappuccino…

Same barista…

He stopped what he was doing and looked at me with one eyebrow raised…

You could clearly see in his eyes, “Oh oh, one of ‘those…’”

But I wasn’t “one of ‘those’” – although I sure as heck sounded like it….

I was just stunned that I could order the fool thing with a straight face, and I told them that.

They laughed…

Next day – I came in – and Stevie, same barista was there, Annie was there wearing out a Sharpie filling out all the little boxes on the cup (it fills all but one of them), LaRae was riding shotgun, and I didn’t even get a chance to say anything.

I walked up, Stevie saw me coming, and said, “I know… Yadda Yadda Yadda…”

And from there on out – it became known in the Fremont Starbuck’s store as a “Yadda Yadda Yadda”

I’d left that job, and hadn’t been in there for a long time… I wasn’t sure what the typical employee turnover had done to the institutional memory there, but for a long time after I left, you could order a Yadda Yadda Yadda, any way you wanted, you could order a decaf or a nonfat Yadda Yadda Yadda, heck, you could have them fill out all the boxes on the cup and order a half caf, half decaf Yadda Yadda Yadda – it was fun.  The Fremont Starbucks was the coffee equivalent of “Cheers” – and to Annie, LaRae, Stevie, and the other baristas at the Fremont store – thank you – for making it such a special place back then.

A while back I went in with a friend, and like I said, hadn’t been there in a long time, and one of the same baristas was still working there.

She saw me, her eyes lit up, and she said, “Oh! Oh! I remember, it was a Yadda Yadda Yadda…”

It was…

And it still is…

Tom Roush

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December 2022
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