Coffee and a Cringe

The coffee you can get today in the neighborhood is a far cry from what used to be.

There are so many choices, so many blends and styles, and a virtual spelling test of additives to greet you once you’ve made the crucial choice.

Sitting on Clarendon Street the other day, and before that on Tremont Street, I reminisced about what coffee outside of the home used to be in these very same places.

There were no cups with things to protect your hands. And if you stayed in the shop to drink your joe, you weren’t going to get a nice big soup-bowl style ceramic cup.

Everything came in Styrofoam, and it all came from a small coffee pot. The black-rimmed pot was caffeinated, the orange-rimmed pot was decaf.

The only thing I’ve found close to it now is at the world famous Casa Cuong – a throwback convenience store on Tremont Street that sells everything from light bulbs to candy bars to international phone cards. I think they still offer coffee in a Styrofoam cup.

And perhaps I’ve spent too many cold mornings in a construction site trailer and too many Friday evenings in a church basement at the 50/50 raffle night, but I prefer a hefty sprinkle of non-dairy creamer in my coffee. And I’ll stoop so low as to enjoy Sanka WITH non-dairy creamer.

Sacrilege in today’s coffee circles.

What ever happened to non-dairy cream anyhow? I was at one of the fancier coffee spots in the Back Bay some time ago and I found milk, skim milk, cream, heavy cream, almond milk, soy milk, and something in a tube called Agape. Or maybe it was Agave. Either way, I’m not putting that in my coffee.

There are more additive choices at the coffee shop nowadays than there are at Auto Zone.

But amongst those fancy pants things, there weren’t any containers of non-dairy creamer. An old staple of the old shops that has been passed over by a spoiled palate.

  • • • • •

I’ve noticed a bit of a change citywide and in the neighborhoods about how developers are approaching large projects when pitching them to the community.

Instead of filing with the city straightaway, some of the developers on the bigger projects are going to the community first. They present their song and dance more times and more often than anyone wants to hear it. After a certain point, once the newness wears off and people have moaned a bit, the public gets sick of it.

Once the developer files, anyone interested in the project cannot bear to sit through another round of song and dance. So, the project cruises through the official city process without a hitch, complaint or tie-up.

I saw this first with the Flower Exchange in the South End. Now another developer is doing it with the old horse track project in Eastie.

Dollars to donuts we see a lot more following suit.

  • • • • •

I happened to see the other day when fumbling helplessly on my smart phone that Facebook has a Twitter page.

How’s that work? Aren’t they arch rivals?

To me, it would be like Coke having a Pepsi, or Little Debbie having brunch with Twinkie the Kid.

Count me confused.

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