Sunday, 27 February 2011

Quality Over Quantity

Yesterday morning Dan and I decided to hold our Saturday morning coffee date at Starbucks, instead of one of the little cafes we always frequent.

I told Dan to get me a small latte and a muffin, and I went to hold us a table. When he brought our mugs over, I saw that he'd accidentally gotten me a medium latte but didn't say anything about it. As our morning proceeded, we picked at our greasy blueberry muffins, sipped our sweet beverages, and chatted the hour away.

By the end of the hour I still hadn't finished my coffee, so I did that little 'I've eaten too much but should finish it' sigh, and swallowed the sugary dredges. "Sweets, if we come back to Starbucks again I don't think I can handle a medium coffee. I think I can only stomach a small now."

"Uh, that was a small. I have the medium."

And sure enough, I put my baby mug next to his Papa Bear mug and my eyes bugged out of my head. "Oh my god, that was huge small! That was so much coffee. And look at yours!"

Peering into Dan's mug, he still had over half his coffee left, which he mournfully gazed at as well. "I know, I can't finish this. It's enormous. I can't believe I used to drink these, or the larges, all the time."

"And you know, the blueberry muffins were gross. They were super oily and had no flavour."

"I was thinking the same thing, but didn't want to complain. I also found the coffee way too sweet, it was too weak, and generally not very good."

Then we stared at each other in disbelief for a moment before exclaiming, WHAT'S HAPPENING TO US?

The answer?


Switzerland is happening to us.

When we go to our usual cafes and order a coffee, we receive a strong brew that only comes in one size, which by North American standards is "teeny-weeny." Yet after months of drinking that little cup of flavourful coffee and having a homebaked treat on the side, we have unknowingly been turned off of our favourite North American indulgence:

Mediocre excess.

"Oh my goodness Dan. Can you imagine what's going to happen when you have a Tim Horton's Double-Double again? What are you going to think?"

And Internet, just so you know, an extra-largeTim Horton's Double-Double was Dan's baby blanket. That cuppa-java was his absolute favourite indulgence, and if he had one of those steaming brews in the cup holder and a long car trip on the horizon, he was the most content human on the planet.

"Oh god," he groaned in absolute disappointment, "don't even say it. I already know I'm going to hate it. It's going to taste watery and disgusting. That makes me so sad."

We solemnly contemplated that our fellow Canadians were going to think we're arrogant douches because we might end up snubbing the almighty Starbucks or Tim Horton's based on the most cringe-worthy reason of all: 'flavour'. They were going to start looking at us sideways and referring to us as those unorthodox pricks down the road who think they're better than every one else because they don't like the holy grail of Canadian coffee: a Timmy's Double-Double.

It was a quiet moment we shared, and then I said, "Great the next thing you know we'll start to think that every one in suburban North America drives outrageously sized vehicles for their super dangerous and all-terrain trips of navigating paved roads to go to and from the mall. Haha.....ah, crap."


Habebi said...

Ohhh Catie how I've missed your whitty observations and discoveries!! Mediocre excess- how did I manage to not think of that?!

Starbucks is more of a convience thing than anything else. They have decent quality, but, I don't pretend to think they are the be all that ends all. I also find most of their stuff way too sweet, that's why if I order a frap (which is once in a blue moon nowadays) it's on the light side because the real thing is too heavy and sweet. Not a happy combo.

Quality is way better than quantity. I stil don't understand how having bigger for less mula came to be such an obsession here. I feel like I need to take a cultural anthropology course to understand lol.

Habebi said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
T said...

Secret confession: I hate Tim Hortons. I'm still a little in love with Starbucks but when I moved to Vernon two summers ago I discovered that the little mom and pop cafes are so much better.

So when you come back you will have one friend that would be willing to drive out of town now and then just to have a decent cup of coffee!

Also, I love that you're enjoying Switzerland so much more now, I was starting to get worried that you were going to be homesick by the time I had a chance to visit you!

Mrs Crocodile said...

Yes! The discovery that Swiss coffee and pastries are something to write home about: What an endearing post! Welcome to the other side!

Helen said...

You're so right, Starbucks isn't a patch on proper "European" coffee. Starbucks' sizes are also too large and I get full before I reach the bottom. Their new size, the trenta, is just insane.

I think the majority of Canadians may shoot me for saying this but when I lived in Canada I just could not get on with Tim Hortons' coffee. To me, it tasted of weak dishwater without a discernable trace of coffee flavour. The doughnuts on the other hand...

Dad said...

Really looking forward to Swiss coffee and pastries Cait. Your mom will have me running the hills to wear it off, but what the hey! Also, I quit the 'double double' thing long ago.........WAY too much sugar. A medium Timmy's with one cream is my standard now and one day, I may cut the cream.

mom said...

I don't really like Starbucks fancy coffees because they are way too sweet. I do, however, like a Tims - 1/2 sugar, 1 cream. Sometimes dishwater is tasty :-) I think my favorite coffee is Cowboy Coffee. Looking forward to Swiss coffee and pastries :-))

cheryl from saskatchewan said...

umm - just another Canadian weighing in to say that I don't like Tim Horton's coffee either. no matter how you dress it up - tastes nasty!

Caitie said...

Habebi--Thank-you for appreciating the turn of phrase. I was secretly pleased about it too...and uh, guess that's not a secret anymore ;-)

T--We will totally go to Vernon for a cup of coffee! And also, we will totally grab a thimble of coffee here too ;-) Looking forward to it!

Mrs Crocodile--Thank-you for the warm welcome to the other side! I got here just as soon as tasted my first bite of a warm cheese tart.

Dad--Oh the running that Mom will make you do. The running. I'll ride along side you two and shout encourgement from the bus window.

Mom--I totally forgot about Cowboy Coffee! Though to be fair the only thing I've ever ordered from them is that delicious strawberry slush. I'll try the coffee next time.

Helen--I haven't seen the 'trenta', but when I read that word I imagined a Big Gulp sized Starbucks cup. Trenta sounds like it should be a verb to desribe things that are outlandish.

Cheryl--Can I please cite you as a reference to fellow Canadians who don't think Timmy's is all it's 'cracked' up to be. We will have strength in numbers.

jess said...

hey ...get out of my diary! kidding. wait, you know i'm kidding. you know that you weren't really reading my swiss diary.

i am totally sending this to my husband. we can totally relate.