July 29, 2005 Features & Images » Feature Story

A latte difference 

The search for a good cup of coffee leads to the discovery of an art form


I wanted a good coffee. And I mean really good.

I had caught myself daydreaming about a latte that morning. Aching, almost, to wrap my hands around some 21 st century ambrosia. I was just curled up in my duvet, musing about Mercury and how much faster he would have been with a decent cup or two. Things had come to a head.

It had been a couple of months. I was saving for a trip, and the Bodum cuts it, with the right Whistler Roasting Company Ltd. beans and the right grind. For, about two months. Then I found something was missing from my coffee-culture life. It was time for a latte. As I climbed out of bed, I was filled with both anticipation and a double-shot of trepidation.

Let me preface this with a little back information about myself. I have two pet peeves.

1) Pens that don’t work. They make me want to eat my brain.

2) Spending $4 on a latte and the milk is thinned out, over-heated and the coffee taste like I’ve been licking stale used filters (again).

But I’ll save the pen rant for another day.

The perfect latte. I like my latte with whole milk. Not 2 per cent, 1 per cent or translucent blue skim pseudo-milk. I prefer it in a mug, or bowl, but take-away is fine as long as there are heat sleeves. I don’t like to be distracted by blistering hands when I am indulging in a latte. I find it too hard to concentrate. A well-prepared latte is a little piece of heaven. It is quiet decadence, to be sipped and savoured.

I took the bus into town. I had to be at work at 8:30 a.m. I went in a little early. I started a mental catalogue of coffee shops in my head to select my caffeinated destination, where I would get exactly what I wanted. That double-shot of trepidation addled me, but I had faith I would be victorious.

First I had to list where I didn’t want to go. That was easy. I didn’t want a long line-up of weirdoes citing "double-tall-skinny-half-caf-extra-hot-to-go-with-quarter-whip and I’m in a rush no please and thank you," although the coffee is pretty good, I admit. And I refuse to pay for the bitter novice-garbage of many of the other local cafés. And the scenic route to Behind the Grind would have me late for my temp job at the lovely Delta Whistler Village Suites.

So, I went to Hotbox; close, convenient, funky sofa and wicked tunes. I maintain that I was lulled into a possible false sense of security in their latte-making prowess by the outdoor zebra-pattern sofa. It was very hip, in contrast to our cookie-cutter village, and I fell for it. I clutched my doubt Linus blanket, nonetheless.

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