That said, I am a purist. Screw your double nonfat hazelnut latte. Espresso tastes like rocket fuel and makes my eye sockets clench. I'll drink it, but I think it's overkill. What I really prefer is a nice cup of drip coffee. Black. No sugar.
These days, I am in the minority. Simple tastes aren't always simple to accommodate. Your average coffee shop goer isn't there for the drip coffee. This means frequently waiting while the person in front of me orders a drink cursed with six adjectives or more, which takes six times as long to procure as what I want, which simply calls for the barista to pour some pinche coffee into a cup and hand it to me.
But the real problem is the quality. People don't order drip coffee, so the drip coffee sits in a fetid dispenser for hours on end or, worse yet, lingers in the pot burning into a ghastly substance better fit for the diners of purgatory. This brown swill requires heavy doses of cream and sugar to make it remotely palatable. Drip coffee at coffee shops is never good; at best its merely acceptable. I have choked down so many nasty cups that I rarely even bother anymore. I sigh and order an americano, which will at least be fresh, even though it's just espresso masquerading as drip.
Yesterday, I was at Victrola on Pike. Victrola has a reputation for good coffee, and I dimly remembered ordering an acceptable cup of drip there years ago. I squinted at the guy behind the counter. He looked trustworthy. He looked, in fact, like he might be a transplanted Oregon hippy. Auspicious. I stepped out on a limb.
"I'll have a cup of drip," I said, my voice cracking a little. He didn't look surprised. Also a good sign. Clearly someone had ordered drip here within the last year or so, so maybe the coffee hadn't been sitting for too long.
The coffee, in a heavy white ceramic mug, was a rich opaque brown. It smelled good. The taste was lovely. Gone was the burnt undertone, the suspicious aftertaste of molding apparatus. No tinge of acridness, no bitterness. A well-rounded, dare I say, mellow, flavor. Better, even than what I make at home. Victory at last.