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Back Buzz - December 30, 2002

[pumping heart] Bhavas Coffee, 9841 Walker Street, Cypress, California, USA

Forget the wars on terror, poverty, and environmental pollution. What we really need to start is a war on Starbucks. The sad story I tell below should provide all the justification we need.

Recently, when my friend Mary and I walked into Bhavas Coffee, a fairly new coffee house, we were at first struck by the pleasant atmosphere: yellow and purple decor, couches, modern art on the walls, and a knowledgeable-looking barista behind the counter. When we ordered two "small macchiatos" and were served two large paper cups with lids, I just assumed this was one of those places that simply didn't have china cups. When I picked up my cup and realised I had what was heavy enough to be a very unfoamy latte I began to worry. Imagine our shock when we each took a sip and found our macchiatos were sweet -- in fact, my first impression was of an eggnog latte.

So I marched back up to the counter with the two drinks and said, "Excuse me, but, um, what are these?" The barista answered, "You ordered macchiatos, didn't you?" "Yes, but these aren't macchiatos." At which point she looked at me and said, "Oh, you wanted European macchiatos!" Duh...

Apparently Starbucks has so popularised its "caramel macchiato", which is a caramel latte marked with espresso, that all these Southern Californians now think a macchiato is the same thing as a caramel latte. This is like assuming, if you drive through Jack In The Box and order a cheeseburger and fries, you'll get a bowl of Cheerios and an eggplant. I mean, come on, Starbucks! What's the matter with calling a caramel latte what it is? Wasn't it Gertrude Stein who said "a caramel latte is a caramel latte is a caramel latte"?

I feel this is the first sign of a global takeover of the sense of Taste...

Fortunately the barista happily made us our "European" macchiatos, which were both served in white cappuccino cups. They weren't bad -- a little weak but with a pleasant flavour. We had bagels with cream cheese as well, which were massive and not very chewy at all.

The name of the cafe, Bhavas, means "Life" in Sanskrit. The cafe is situated in the suburban parking lot of a big discount store called Tuesday Morning. But this was a Monday morning. Would we be allowed to go shopping at Tuesday Morning on a Monday morning? Isn't that sort of like buying your Sunday Los Angeles Times on a Saturday?

Speaking of the definition of titles, the following is a short e-mail exchange from a couple of years ago with my Bay Area friend:

The night you recently spent in the city of Lincoln sounded like a nice break in an exhausting week. The name "Lincoln", by the way, seems to be more closely related to the proper name Linden than to honest Abe. It originated with the Celtic name, Lindon, which became Lindum Colonia (meaning "Lindon's bowels") under the Romans (same as Lincoln, Nebraska, no doubt). The family name of our 16th president, on the other hand, was taken from the Lincoln motorcar company, and the spelling similarity is mere coincidence.

Would I lie?

According to the crude map in the Rough Guide, the Lullingstone Roman Villa is around the junction of the M20 and M25, just north of the town of Sevenoaks. Sadly, during the Great Storm of 1987 this town lost six of the ancient oaks for which it was named (and "Oneoak" sounds more like a tribal place name in the Pacific Northwest); but this, I see, is balanced in part, at least numerically, by the fact that the "Cinque Ports" of the Kent seacoast now number seven.

So if we lived in Lincoln, would we have the same view of LBJ's colon as the world had of Reagan's? Perhaps that isn't such a good idea...

Does Twenty-Nine Palms still have all 29 palm trees? Or is it now Twenty-Two Palms? Does Thousand Oaks still have that many? Would they rename it Seven Hundred And Fourteen Oaks?

...and on the subject of suburbia, here's another recent exchange:

In SoCal in the recent election the San Fernando Valley residents failed to get the votes to secede from "Los Angeles". As an alternative perhaps they should consider seceding into hyperspace. Hyperspace is less in demand than it was during the 1970s and 1980s, so housing costs are probably low. And I bet the City of Los Angeles would have a hard time coming around to collect those payments it claims the Valley would owe them.

Thanks to mid-20th-century creations like Milton Keynes, Wellington Garden City, and Levittown, we have suburbia. Then, because of the physical growth outward of such sprawling metropolises as Los Angeles/Orange/Ventura Counties, we now have exurbia. Will hyperurbia be the housing trend of the 21st Century? Just think how many homes you could build on just one acre of ten-dimensional land. And it might solve congestion and pollution problems as well as reduce travel costs, because from your ten-dimensional home you could quickly and easily commute through perhaps one set of three coordinates to get to your job, and through another set to get to the supermarket, and even through a third set to fly instantly to Mallorca for your yearly vacation! You wouldn't need a car anymore -- although for Southern Californians who are in love with their cars they could own a life-sized model of a car they could sit in to ride to their hyperspace destinations.