Calgary is the city of dishwater coffee. The coffee here just sucks. It doesn't matter whether you visit your barrista at a chic Kensington coffee house or a nationwide chainstore monstrocity. Even Starbucks seems to skimp on their java, and you can't afford it anyway.
How can this city even function with its appalling lack of caffeine? How can Chairman Ralph get over the morning's hangover with liquid weaker than tea? How can mortal men suck oil from our earth while drinking such paltry brew? These are the questions I ask myself while trundling the halls my university. How can the students, in fact how can I possibly stay awake? You see, the coffee in my university is just as bad as everywhere else. There are many places to get the stuff - the ubiquitous Barrista brand you find everywhere, Coffee Company's lackluster liquid, even ENA's cheap brewed-once-a-day-only crap - but all these places produce something not entirely unlike but definitely not coffee. Something in fact closer to tap water.
But with the construction of the new ICT building, a long overdue sandwich place suddenly appeared. Their name was "Ploughboy", and lo, upon their menus they had something new: Pressure-brewed coffee. But what could that mean? Just another marketing tactic, a new name for the same old stuff but without the pizzaz of Latte or Macciato? That's what I thought. Until one day, in a lecture room across the way, while listening to an old man expound the virtues of Simula '68, a flavour wafted through the air, into my nostrils. Coffee. But not just any coffee: strong coffee.
I thought about the coffees in my life. Starbucks, Second Cup, Maxwell House, I had tried them all, searching for coffee that tastes as good as it smells. They all had failed the test. But this coffee... it smelled ten times greater than all of the others. Could it taste just as good?
And at the end of the day, when all the work was done, I knew I could stand it no more - I had to try pressure-brew. I stood in line for a minute or two, and when my turn came, I ordered a small - just a taste, to see how it was. I gave a dollar to an old gent who had just came from the back of the store, with flour on his hands. He took the dollar and looked at me: "Lisa will get that to you." Lisa was the barrista, I guess. Lisa was a nice girl with twelve piercings in each ear (concentric metal hoops from bottom to top), two under her nostrils, and one in her philtrum. With an air of disenchantment, perhaps of working for her father (or possibly her father, I never asked), she placed a small paper cup under the spout of a generic espresso coffee-dispensing machine. She pushed a button. There was a pause, then a hiss, then brownish stuff spouted from two tubes in a black protrudence. In thirty seconds, the cup was full. "Here," Lisa handed it to me.
When putting the sugar in, I noticed an ominous brown sludge at the top. It refused to dissolve when I mixed it (with a real wooden stirstick). I was fearful, but I replaced the heat-saving top and carefully sipped.
If God made coffee, as a gift to mortal men, (along with fruits and vegetables and women), this is the coffee that He would brew. Just a few degrees below unpleasantly hot, (and therefore highly pleasant), with a certain thickness and richness in the mouth. The taste of the earth of Kenya (or was it Columbia), shining through the goodness of roasted beans. Unbelievable. Incredible. Sacred, for it was a sacred moment. I had found the coffee I had searched my entire life for. Every sip brought newfound wonder and complexity. What beauty in this world.
I think I'll come back tomorrow and buy another. And I think I will tell the old gent to raise his prices. A dollar is too little for such glorious brew. Or at least, put out a collection plate.