Monday, January 14, 2008
Caterina Benalcazar, Barista, pusherwoman
Years in Lawrence: "Lucky number 13."
Working in a coffee shop, do you absorb caffeine? Does this allow you to vibrate at frequencies where you can pass through solid matter?
"I don't overdo it with coffee. After years of this, I know there's always more tomorrow. It's not going out of style. My tenure at La Prima Tazza has lasted six and a half lovely years. It's a great job for those of us with other loves and hobbies-flexible schedule, decent money, and a great way to meet some fantastic people. I have met some of the greatest people in the world at the coffee shop I'm at now. Plus, you get to be everyone's angel/pusher first thing in the morning. As corny as it sounds, it's a nice feeling."
Be honest-do we really need to tip baristas? Isn't that the equivalent of tipping the fry cook at Arby's?
"Ooh, that's a sticky subject. I try to never expect a tip, that way I'm only ever happily surprised. Let me put it this way-do you appreciate us and the way we try to listen to all your thoughts and feelings and remember that you like a half pack of turbinado at the bottom of your latte and that you like an extra scoop of chocolate in your mocha and that we don't charge you extra for it or that we are always happy to remake a drink for you if it's not exactly how you like it? If so, then anything you contribute is greatly appreciated and duly taxed as income. Try getting that kind of attention from the fry cook at Arby's. He don't love you the way we love you."
What's the most annoying type of customer: the elitist academic who thinks you're making his half-caff wrong, the unwashed schizophrenic who wanders in off the street and does weird things in your bathroom, or the cranked up student grinding teeth on an all-nighter?
"Oh, I don't know. This sounds like a cop-out, but people have a way of defying stereotypes-usually. Plus, elitist academics almost never drink half-caff. The best customer is the customer who says 'please' and 'thank you.' Seriously. Sometimes it's better than a good tip."
What's the secret to making a good cup of coffee?
"Fresh brewed with filtered water and a heaping tablespoon per 8 ounces of water."
What's the most ridiculous thing you've been asked to make?
"After *ahem* years of doing this, I've been asked to make just about everything, and this much I know-if your friend tells you to get a lime Irish cream latte, she's f*cking with you. Trust me, it's disgusting."
Are syrups and all other frou frou flavored nonsense a form of moral degeneracy that weakens our great nation?
"No. People who think 'flavored nonsense' is a form of moral degeneracy are what's weakening our nation. We could all do with a little more nonsense in our lives-except for lime Irish cream lattes. I'm pretty sure Satan came up with those."
Do you actually consider yourself a drug dealer? Albeit a respected, pillar-of-the-community drug dealer?
"I'd like to quote my fave 'Law & Order' rapper, Ice T, when I say, 'The cops don't know what to do, because my dope breaks thru. No matter what they do, my stuff gets to you. Kickin' on the boulevard, my tempo's hyped and hard. You want some real dope, come look in my trunk. The dope I'm sellin' is life, 100% legit. So get real fool, and try some real hit. I'm your pusher.'"