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Back Buzz - April 25, 2014

pumping heartMotore Caffé, Howard Street, City Centre, Sheffield, South Yorkshire

It's been a couple of years since I first heard from a workmate about a coffee cart that was parked not too far from the entrance to our work. He said the coffee was really nice. That afternoon, at around three o'clock, I went out to look for it, but I didn't find it.

Just last week another friend mentioned it again. I had forgotten completely about it and presumed it was no longer there. But when this friend claimed it was top quality, I decided I should definitely seek it out this time before I forgot again. (I do tend to forget things, even when they have to do with good coffee and beer. After all, I'm only human and we do live in a chaotic world.)

Just this week, before I started my afternoon shift, I took a stroll down Howard Street, past the main entrance to Sheffield Hallam University and toward the train station. And there it was: a tiny blue van with a sign that said Motore Caffé. When I got closer I noticed the sign also said "artisan coffees", so I had the feeling I was in for a treat.

My double macchiato was good and robust and perfectly made. And it was full of caffeine -- or perhaps that was due to my already heightened level of stress. Nevertheless, it was great and I thoroughly enjoyed it and I'm so excited there is such fine coffee so close to where I work. And the caffeine kick was beneficial simply because my stress levels were affecting my sleep, and the coffee would help keep me going through the rest of the day so that perhaps I could sleep well that night .( I suppose that doesn't make much sense, but it did work.)

After he served me my drink the barista said he was doing a little survey and wanted to know where I was from. Apparently the Motore crew have a theory that British women tend to drink large coffee drink such as lattes and cappuccinos as opposed to small ones, so he wanted to find out if I was foreign. When I told him I'd lived in Seattle for ten years it instantly became clear to him why I like the shorter drinks. A couple of days later I stopped by for another macchiato, and I brought along British John who ordered his usual Americano. So it isn't just British women, is it?

Motore was started by Nick Pears in 2012 in the back of a converted Piaggio Ape van. The coffee they use is supplied by Pollards in Sheffield and is a special blend of Ethiopian, Rwandan, and Costa Rican beans. The van sells coffee Monday to Friday from 7:30 in the morning until 2:30 in the afternoon, and on weekends it is driven to events around the city such as local markets and sporting events.

Although Motore works out of the back of a van, it reminds me of the typical custom-made coffee carts that were so ubiquitous on nearly every street corner of Seattle when I lived there. The van is conveniently located close to the entrance of the city campus of Sheffield Hallam University and also just up the hill from the Sheffield train station and the bus interchange, so it's a perfect location for the student and the commuter, and obviously for the student commuter. The Sicilian pastries should tempt the early morning rush as well. There's a sign on a sandwich board that promises that they'll swap your coffee from another establishment for free, which seems like a pretty impressive offer. So this is all good.

Speaking of lunch reminds me of a recent e-mail conversation with my Bay Area Friend:

I remember you once mentioned "turophobia" (the fear of cheese), and I just read an article by a man afflicted with it, among several other phobias and anxieties. It's the cover story on the current Atlantic Magazine, written by the editor of the same. He has severe panic attacks before speaking in public (which he must have to do regularly) and suffers severe emetophobia, being terrified of vomiting (which he hasn't actually done since 1977) and all the things that might cause him to vomit (including air travel and eating cheese, apparently). This is so extreme that it borders on comical. You may not want to read the whole, long article (adapted from a 400-page book, which has just been published), but the first couple pages should give you the flavor, if you're curious. I managed to get through the first couple of pages, and now I feel quite anxious. It sounds like he's got a general anxiety disorder that seems to combine fear of all manner of space, fear of his own body (outside and in), and fear of objects separate from himself. That's pretty severe. I did recognise a few of the medications he's on.

I suppose that's what life in the 21st century is all about: choosing the best medication and/or substance(s) -- be it alcohol, coffee, chocolate, tobacco, cannabis, cocaine, hot chiles, and/or even cheese -- in order to survive.

I have a handful of friends, both British and American, who have a fear of blue cheese, and I suppose, considering what the blue is from, I can almost see their rationale, although I certainly can't empathise. And not everybody shares my appreciation for rustic Normandy Camembert so aged that it nearly walks across the kitchen floor. But how in the world could anybody be frightened by a slice of medium cheddar?