Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Original Ice-Blended Mocha, with Whipped Cream

Do you have a special drink? A drink that when you sip it, you inhale a deep sigh, a happy feeling bubbles in the pit of your stomach and tons of memories come flooding back? I think we all do. Mine just so happens to be an original ice-blended mocha, with whipped cream.
This delight can't be made just anywhere. I've looked. Picasso's, my usual coffeehouse haunt due to to its proximity to my house, has a fairly decent mocha frappacino but it tastes wrong. Too much coffee, not enough chocolate. My university's local coffeehouse, MT Cup, has the opposite problem. It has too much chocolate. I can hardly taste the coffee. And I need that kick. What usually ends up happening when I'm at these coffeehouses is I order the hot drink, because you can't screw that up. Make hot coffee, insert cream and chocolate. But for ice-blended, for that frappacino, you need the precise balance.
It's a Grind would be the place for that balance. Maybe I'm biased. Actually, I know I am. It's a Grind and I go way back, you see.
At the beginning of my sophomore year of high school, a brand new coffeehouse opened up on Elm Street where I live. My parents have never been coffee people, but for some reason they felt the urge to check it out. I came along and fell in love with the place. It had cushy armchairs, played MY kind of music (indie acoustic and acoustic rock), and had the best tasting coffee. The owner was sweet and even offered us free samples of a yummy flowery iced tea. As I sat in one of the squishy armchairs, I thought, yeah, this'd be a great place for my birthday party.
And so it was. I invited all of my friends--a combination of the old friends I'd had in gradeschool and the new friends I'd made in high school. It was perfect. I'd been afraid of my old friends leaving me behind this party changed all that. My friends and I decided that every month we'd meet at a coffeehouse (sometimes It's a Grind, sometimes not) and talk or celebrate a birthday. We called it the 'Coffee Klatch'. But that's a story for another time. I'm focusing on It's a Grind.
It's a Grind was a part of my life in high school. It's where I hung out. Other kids partied on Friday nights, my friends went to It's a Grind's Open Mic Nite and played and sang. During our finals week, my best friend and I spent our time there studying and sweating over our notes.
It's a Grind has even been my cupid of sorts. I started to develop feelings for my friend--I'll call him First Boyfriend. Because he was my First Boyfriend. And it was at It's a Grind where I told him that I wanted to go out with him. It's a Grind was a central part of our dates. After closing time one night, I went over to his house to watch movies and there we both shared our first kiss.
But my darling special place was a part of my heartbreak too. It's a Grind was the place where First Boyfriend and I broke up too. Feelings are fleeting, and I feared First Boyfriend's. I ran away and when it all fell apart, it fell apart at It's a Grind.
My senior year my best friend and I began to play professionally at It's a Grind. That is, we performed cover songs and they paid us. Sadly, as I left high school, the It's a Grind in my hometown closed and moved to the city, where it was further away and harder to get to.
It's a Grind remained on my mind through college though. Whenever I tasted a coffee, I unconsciously compared it to It's a Grind's. When I returned home, my new boyfriend, who I'll call Nomad, took me there a few times as a treat.
And now this year. I can't come as often as I like. I hate driving on highways and I hate driving through the city so only when I need that perfect blend of coffee and chocolate do I allow myself to come here. But it calms me. That first sip is like a sip of home, a sip that reminds me that even though I've been out of dodge for so long and lost who I was, It's a Grind knows. That first sip tells me that I'm the girl who loves their coffee, who loves performing for them, who loves mellow coffeeshop music, who would do anything for her friends. Strangely enough, sometimes it's hard to remember that.
The It's a Grind in the city is closing now. I am sad all over again, it's like it's high school and I'm leaving a part of my soul once again. The nearest one will be even farther away, now a thirty-minute drive. A special treat will now probably become something I only get once or twice a year. But still I will love it. I'll make that drive. I need that sip. I need that ice-blended mocha with whipped cream to comfort me and tell me that through all the changes and fear in my life, I'm still the same person I was five years ago.
Sometimes that's all we really need.

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