Coffee in California is different from Canada. My medium Americano misto is always a little stronger than I expect. I’m starting to like it this way.
There’s actually not much misto in it at all. I have to order it as an “Americano with a little bit of steamed milk” because last time I only got a half-hearted spoonful of foam. This time, I watch the barista reluctantly spoon in two tablespoons of steamed milk, while he in turn gawks at me like I must have come from outer space.
Considering that I just moved from Canada, I guess that’s not too far from the truth.
About a month earlier, when I ordered an Americano misto at a nearby Starbucks, I was told by the barista that I had just ordered a “watered-down latte”. I almost took it as an insult, but a corner of his lips betrayed him, twisting up into a mischievous grin. His eyes twinkled at me. I laughed. A part of me suddenly wondered if his name was Taylor and if he’d add a little extra foam at no extra charge.
I’m sitting at a tiny table near the wall in a small Peet’s Coffee and Tea shop. My brother is sitting across from me, so engrossed in his Winter Solstice tea that he doesn’t notice his glasses fogging up from the steam. There are random bits of stubble dotting his upper lip and chin. He likes to call them his “masculine hairlings” because he can’t actually grow a proper beard.
Neither of us can really think of much to say, so we don’t say anything. I realize very quickly that this is probably the last sibling coffee date I will have with him before he leaves to go back to his beautiful fiancee in Canada. He’s been here for about a month.
My brother used to take me out for coffee regularly, and sometimes we’d even get up really early to go for breakfast. We always looked like the perfect pair of zombies. Before he started dating his fiancee, he’d talk about girls, and I’d talk about boys. I’d explain why girls were so moody. He’d explain why boys were so stupid. After he started dating, it was mostly just me talking about boys. And he was mostly still explaining why boys were so stupid.
Once, as we were getting into the car to go on one of these crazy morning escapades, he told me that he was going to pay for breakfast. I asked him how I could pay him back. He said, “Get me a girlfriend.” So I told him, “Get me a boyfriend.”
Granted, a lot of people thought we were a couple, which grossed us out to no end. There was a Japanese restaurant in particular whose waiters and waitresses never got the hint that we were in fact siblings. We always used to go there on Friday nights, at least once a month, because my studio masterclass was held once a month on Friday evenings. My brother would listen to me rant and rave about how nervous I always was for these performance classes. If I was feeling particularly down, he’d let me eat almost all of the chopped scallop roll even though I’d still rob almost half of his Dynamite roll.
After my brother started dating his fiancee, they invited me to some of their coffee dates, along with his fiancee’s little sister. We became a perfect set of zombies, eating breakfast at each other’s houses.
On one particular Friday evening, my brother and his fiancee decided to wait for me at that particular Japanese restaurant while I was still finishing up the masterclass. They later told me the waiters and waitresses looked aghast that he’d apparently “switched” girlfriends. I’d been going to this restaurant with my brother for about three years.
It was amazing when I marched in about 20 minutes later, planted myself in the seat across from them, and promptly started rattling my tongue off about how horribly the masterclass went. I swear one of the waitresses looked like she threw up a little in her mouth.
I smile at the memory and look up to see my brother looking at me too. I think he realizes the same thing as me. We’ll bug each other a lot over Skype, but we won’t be doing coffee like this again for a while.
Before he left, he bought my family a bag of Peet’s Coffee beans and a Peet’s mug for each of us. We don’t brew the same kind of coffee every morning. Some mornings it’s French Roast. Other mornings are Hazelnut. And there are a few mornings here and there when we brew Peet’s Coffee.
I think we’re trying to make it last until the next time we see him.