I decided to expand my horizons, and help my health, but the whole experience of ordering your first cup of coffee can be quite confusing. Phrases such as “tall, venti, grande, solo, skinny, triple, wet, with legs” are common in local coffee houses. Exactly what language are people speaking here — and do I get a translation book with my first order? If my coffee comes with legs, is it planning to run away?
The choices can be a bit intimidating. So I asked a few local residents and even Miguel Gonzalez, a barista at Barista’s, 112 W. 10th St., for some advice.
“I see a lot of people order skinny drinks — a drink made with skim or nonfat milk and sugar-free syrup if the drink includes syrup,” Gonzalez said. “They order the skinny drinks to keep healthy. When the weather warms up, people tend to order ice or blended drinks. My favorites are a caramel toffee nut and white mocha.”
The coffee trend takes on a socialization element as friends, co-workers and neighbors get together and swap stories over a morning cup of joe. I see local coffee shops today as the malt shops of yesterday. How does one become a regular coffee drinker?
“During my Navy time, I drank a lot of coffee,” longtime Tracy resident Cecil Sims and patron of World Coffee House, 69 W. 10th St., said. “I worked in the engine room, and sometimes you were down there 20 hours or more.”
World Coffee House patron Sam Contreras was introduced to coffee by his mother when he was 18 years old.
“I’ve been a coffee drinker my whole adult life — I got to have it,” Contreras said. “I started with a light coffee and now I drink a Kona blend.”
On Monday morning, I walked into Barista’s and ordered my first cup of hot coffee, a small regular mocha with all the toppings. The taste reminded me of a gourmet cup of hot chocolate. No one had to peel me off the ceiling — that might have been the case if I ordered a large.
In some ways, I feel as if I have crossed a threshold and entered into a members-only society — into the societal world of the coffee drinker.
• Anne Marie Fuller is the host of “Helpful Hints with Anne Marie” on Channel 26. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.