I don’t care that it’s hotter than hell outside. I don’t care that iced coffee is allegedly less acidic. I care that it tastes like dirty dishwater.
When I was a wee lass, I worked as an editorial assistant at a regional magazine. The associate editor, Chris, was archetypal: cranky, world-weary, snarky, somewhat professorial. And no matter the time of day, you could count on him to be no more than three feet from a cup of blazing-hot black coffee.
One morning Chris arrived at the office looking even grumpier than usual.
“What the shit,” he said by way of greeting as he passed my desk.
“What the shit,” I agreed. Looking up from the proofs I’d been correcting with a red pen, I said, “This is regarding…?”
He made a rude noise. “The barista. The stupid, stupid barista.” He meant the tiny coffeeshop downstairs in our building.
Putting my pen aside, I said, “What crime did she commit now?”
Chris tossed his messenger bag into his office before returning to loom over my desk. “When you ask for coffee, what do you mean?”
I blinked. “What do you mean, what do I mean?”
“When you order something, you say what you want, right? You don’t leave room for interpretation?”
I nodded slowly.
“So I go to the coffee shop, where I go every morning, and say what I say every day. Medium black coffee. Boom. End of story.” He leaned in, his arms crossed and his gaze darkening. “Do you know what she said to me?”
“She” meaning the barista. I shook my head.
“She said, ‘Do you want it hot or iced?’” His tone was damning, like a bailiff reading the charges of first-degree murder.
“Uh…” I pursed my lips, trying not to laugh as I glanced at my own sweating cup of iced coffee. “It is about a thousand degrees outside. It’s not an unreasonable question.”
His wounded expression clearly showed that he considered this statement a betrayal. “Young lady, coffee is not meant to be iced. I thought you had standards.”
I rested my chin in my hands, smirking. “Maybe you just haven’t had the right iced coffee yet?”
“Coffee is meant to be hot,” he insisted. “A hot drink in the morning to wake you up. Who wants a cold drink in the morning?” He wrinkled his nose. “Coffee’s not supposed to be diluted. I tried that cold brew crap once. Never again.”
“And why is that?” I asked, unable to hold back a laugh.
Chris has a remarkable poker face, so I’m not sure how serious he was when he leaned in closer to whisper, “Iced coffee is an abomination.”