Can I do it? I think as I approach the barista at Intelligentsia Coffee & Tea in Silver Lake on Saturday afternoon.
Can I actually order chai at a place renowned for its coffee?
I scrunch my face up and nudge my friend Anna. “So you’re getting a mocha?”
“Yep. Definitely in a mocha mood.” She answers confidently.
“Right.” I respond dully.
Am I in a mocha mood? I wonder, attempting to tap into my innermost cravings.
I think about the lingering aftertaste – the foul smell that will penetrate my tongue after I drink it. No, I don’t want coffee breath today, I decide. I want something sweet and spicy, but not too spicy. Perfectly spicy. With lots of foam.
I want a chai.
“So the chai is… err… good here?” I ask when I approach the counter.
“Yep.” The barista responds.
I nod at his noncommittal response. Duh Diana. Of course he’s going to say that. He isn’t exactly going to tell you it sucks! I berate myself.
“Okay, I’ll have the chai then.” I answer firmly after a moment’s hesitation. “Oh and can I get that with skim milk? Please?”
He nods, I smile sheepishly and then move away quickly before I start embarrassing myself any further.
“Chai?” Asks the other barista responsible for whipping up the drinks.
“That’s me!” I pipe up enthusiastically.
“Love the chai here.” He responds as he steers my brimming porcelain white cup and saucer across the counter.
I beam at him. “Really?! Because I wasn’t sure if I should get it…” I pause, glance at the long line of people behind me and cut myself off. “Right. Very good. Thank you!”
Anna and I find seats at the counter inside and I steel myself for disappointment. I’m picky when it comes to my chai. I prefer it to be sweet and milky rather than overly spicy, and it must must must be served with an ample layer of frothy foam.
I take a tentative first sip. A smile bursts across my face as the well-balanced chai saturates my tongue with flavor.
“It’s good!” I tell Anna with pride – clearly my act of ordering it has made it so.
I continue to rave until the subject grows wearisome, and then we move on to more serious matters like all the things I want to buy from the Cheese Store of Silver Lake next door.
“I think I want to get the ‘Ants on a log’ chocolate and maybe the Morning Glory chai cashew brittle. Or should I get the peanut fleur de sel flavor? Is it silly to spend $5.95 on three pieces of brittle?” I start rattling off as Anna sits quietly sipping her mocha.
Just another day in the life...
Intelligentsia Coffee & Tea
3922 W Sunset Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90029-2242