Friday, May 11, 2007

Coffee shops and bathrooms

I know where all the clean public restrooms are in San Diego, and also the good coffee shops. This isn't a bragging scenario. I would never mention that at a cocktail party. It's just an interesting (to me) facet of the job.

I drink a lot of coffee, and therefore end up seeking restrooms often. When I get a fare going to XYZ, and my travel mug is running low, I plot out the nearest quality coffee shop to the customer's destination. After more than two years, my mental map of the city is dotted with great coffee shops. This is critical for two reasons: 1) I am a coffee snob. I need a quality bean, and there needs to be a short amount of time separating the roasting and grinding/brewing, and 2) I need the caffeine for the job. Driving 100-200 miles per day is not at all tiring, but mental fatigue sets in when it's busy, and general tiredness hits when it's slow.

A few good coffee shops:

+ Living Room in Pt. Loma, Old Town, and La Jolla
+ Peet's Coffee in La Jolla (Via la Jolla Dr)
+ 976 in Pacific Beach (976 Cass, to be exact)
+ Other Side in Northpark (the rough area near 30th and University)
+ Almost any place in University Heights, Adams Ave corridor, or Kensington
+LuLu's in the Gaslamp Quarter, downtown (parking sucks, so I rarely manage a cup from downtown)
+ Coffee House on Broadway in Golden Hill
+ Coffee Bean Tea & Leaf in Mission Hills and Mission Valley
+ It's a Grind in Little Italy (I consider this my main coffee shop because it's close to my most popular destination -- the airport)
+ There are others; I can't remember them right now...

Starbucks does not have good coffee! They have strong, over-cooked coffee, so it tastes bolder than 7/11 -- that is all. But the coffee is not good compared to a truly good cup of coffee. Starbucks is counting on people to order latte drinks and add cream and sugar. These things mask the nature of the bean. As a black coffee drinker, and espresso and Americanos, I can attest to a poor quality bean, roasted long ago, and then overcooked. I drink it if I can't find anything better when I need it, and I do appreciate that Starbucks raised the bar for even fast food joints and places like 7/11. Everything (well, almost) is drinkable now in a pinch.

My income doesn't allow me to own the finest automobiles, the best Arabian horses, or the nicest house, but I drink only the finest cup of coffee. It is nice to know that I can get the absolute best in something. I'm an elitist bastard.

As for public restrooms, I never used them until I began driving a taxi. They're filthy and should be avoided at all costs. Working the streets, however, changed all that. I had to learn where the cleanest ones are, all around town. Nothing too special about that, but it's nice to know I can take care of business almost anywhere without running a risk of catching Hepatitis or something worse.


NYC taxi photo said...

how coincidental, i got a bathroom pic up in the latest series, i dunno about 4 pics down. I don't wash my hads there, i don't want to touch the soap dispensers

Matt G said...

Hm. If you touch the soap dispenser, and then wash your hand thoroughly, your hands are then clean.

I envy a good coffee shop. I love (Love. LOVE!) good coffee.

The real goal is to find the cup that tastes like it smells.