Here I am at the coffee shop, and yet again, here is the anorexic-looking woman who seems to follow me to coffee shops all over the country to stand in front of me and order her decaf soymilk latte. All right, I have to admit I am very biased here. I’m someone who, even though I drink soymilk, cook with it, and pour it on my cereal, can’t stand the idea of putting it in her coffee (having made the mistake of trying it not once, but twice, to “make sure it was as bad as I thought it was the first time”). In fact, if truth be told, I’m someone who, if she can’t have half and half (or if really desperate, whole milk) in her coffee, would rather not drink it at all. Therefore, you won’t be the least bit surprised to hear me say that Ms. Anorexic’s order is one that, to me, defeats the whole purpose. If you are going to order a latte, it should be the real thing: whole milk and caffeine. Lovely, frothy creaminess with that guaranteed wake-you-up buzz. Otherwise, why bother?
I know. I know. Some militant vegans are about to crucify me (note I said some. I am not insinuating that all vegans are militant, most especially since about half my meals these days are vegan, and I’ve had plenty of absolutely lovely vegan friends throughout my life). But I’ve never quite understood the notion of giving up something and then eating/drinking poor imitations of it, and I can’t fathom why anyone would need a poor latte imitation. I mean, many of us do grow up eating shepherd’s pie and spaghetti and meatballs and might want some vegan versions of those foods that remind us of Mom’s (or Dad’s) kitchen, but I don’t know many American children who grow up with mother’s (or father’s) special latte recipe.
A lactose intolerant customer makes a little bit more sense. Maybe Ms. Anorexic only recently discovered she’s lactose intolerant, has been a latte addict for years. (In fact, maybe that’s why she looks anorexic. Perhaps I’m being unfair in assuming she must be an anorexic, just because I can practically see the gap between her radius and ulna, under her skin, as she reaches for her cup. Perhaps she’s been drinking a latte every morning for the past fifteen years and has been unable to eat anything else the rest of the day.) She’s just been informed by her doctor that she needs to give up milk. Unlike me, she’s going for the poor imitation, because a poor imitation is better than nothing (kind of like those people who give up smoking and wander around with unlit cigarettes in their mouths).
All right, so, even though my taste buds are all screaming “bleh! Order me a nice cup of lemon ginger tea instead, and let’s have a scone to go with it,” if I think about it long enough, I can sort of understand why someone might order a soymilk latte. But my understanding and sympathy ends there. What’s with the decaf? This is an espresso drink, people. Espresso is meant to put hair on your chest, even if you’re a woman. That’s why Italians drink it in those Thumbelina cups, because they only want a Thumbelina amount of hair on their chests, not the Apeman’s. It is not a drink that should be stripped of its manliness (especially since it’s already beginning to doubt its manliness having been dressed in this womanly milky getup). Have a regular decaf coffee if you don’t want caffeine, and leave the poor espresso alone to flaunt his stuff.
Let’s face it: coffee is not a healthy drink. It has caffeine, a highly-addictive drug. Many of us then dump high-fat cream and sugar, another highly-addictive drug, into it. But let me ask you this: are sugar-free virgin daiquiris all the rage at every bar in town? Do people boycott snack machines that don't contain sugar-free, fat free, Snickers bar? Some things just aren’t meant to be healthy. Coffee is one of them. Please stop trying to make it so, or if you're going to insist on doing so, please get behind me in line.