Because I ace taste tests, I get to keep the mermaid tattoo on my ass.

October 5, 2009

VIA coffeeI knew just by the smell.

Years ago, I took the Pepsi Challenge and, after merely hovering my schnozz over the cup, I could discern which liquid offering was Pepsi and which was the Real Thing.

For one, Pepsi is more carbonated. So the fizz tickling my nostrils was a dead giveaway. For another, Coca-Cola tends to have a “heavier” smell, a “darker” smell, which is also reflected in its taste.

Coke makes me say, “Whoa!” Pepsi makes me say, “Sparkling excrement.”

I put those same senses to work yesterday while waiting in line at the Starbucks location within walking distance of my parents’ house. One of the employees was manning a table featuring two unmarked carafes and urging customers to take the “Starbucks Via Taste Challenge.”

My first thought: I can do this.

My second thought: I can ace this.

With my fellow Starbuckers looking on, I first smelled and then sipped. Actually, the taste part was redundant and the barista knew that the  instant I smiled.

But, kudos to him, he kept a straight face while asking me if I was sure. Not sure so much as absolutely sure. I assured him if I was mistaken, he could operate the laser while it removed the Starbucks mermaid tattoo from my ass.

Turns out I was correct. Either that or the threat of seeing my naked butt scared the poor fellow so badly he would have agreed to anything, even if I told him the sun was actually a large Frisbee.

Admittedly, the Via wasn’t terrible but that doesn’t excuse the fact that it’s still the end result of adding a pouch of powdered coffee to a cup of boiling water.

Which prompts this question to Starbucks is: Are you out of your f****ing mind?

You can call Via “ready brew” all you want (after, according to the barista, spending some 20 years developing the product), but all the PR-slash-astute marketing in the world can’t disguise the fact that what you’ve developed is still instant coffee.

And by instant coffee I mean a concoction that starts off as quality-challenged beans before being soaked in an open sewer, stored in someone’s armpit for several weeks and then run through whatever further processes are needed to guarantee it will survive a nuclear holocaust.

For Christ’s sake, if you’re going to waste all that time and resources reinventing the wheel, give us a rocket ship, not a frickin’ horse.

When I’m offered coffee by our New Zealand friends, I know for a fact they’re about to blow the dust off an old jar of Nescafe that’s been tucked in the back of the pantry for the better part of this century.

When I mention how my favorite coffee is the brewed variety, I draw blank stares, as if I’d just created my own language. This in a country where people regularly use the terms “away with the fairies” or “box of birds” to answer the question, “How are you?”

New Zealand, you see, went directly from instant coffee to espresso machines, skipping right past the filter stage in the process.

And now Starbucks wants to take us back to the bad old days of serving what is little more than cups of hot, black water?

The mermaid on my ass is grimacing at the mere thought of such blasphemy. And, believe me, that is not a pretty sight.


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