A FEW MONTHS AGO
“Another Jack and Coke,” I said, ordering my fifth drink—I try to drink minimally at Lakers’ games. “Look Ray, you have to have an espresso machine at the bakery,” I urged.
“We’re going to have coffee,” responded Ray politely. He’s from Denmark they’re polite.
“That’s great, but you have to have espresso.” I wasn’t taking no for an answer. “Look how busy the Starbucks right around the corner is.” Referring to Starbucks at 11th and Grand. “You could take half their espresso business in your first month…They don’t even make their drinks by hand…And they still get the orders wrong half the time.”
“I don’t know why I come to these games,” chimed in Ed, as in Ed Yawitz our host. “Stan’s right Ray, you have to have espresso drinks.”
“Hell, I’ll be your barista—no charge, if you’re worried about the extra staff,” I offered getting carried away in the moment.
Ed nodded. “Stan’s a world class barista—I’ll come every day.”
Ray hadn’t had as much to drink as I. “Okay, I’ll put in an espresso machine, but you have to come in as our barista, not all the time, but…”
I held up my hand. “I’m there. I’ll be your special guest barista and I’ll train up some protégés.”
A FEW MONTHS LATER
Ray opened Hygge Bakery (1106 South Hope St.) and if you’ve read my blog “Let’s Hygge” you know that I was there crafting a very fine story, which I later wrote while on vacation in Las Vegas. Oh and while I was on vacation I launched downtownster’s sister site blogsincity.com a must read before any trip to Vegas. And if you haven’t read my blog “Let’s Hygge”, you should!!!
So on my way back from Vegas I received a text from Ray. “We’ve got the espresso machine.” I texted him back, that I’d be in the next day.
And there shiny and new was indeed the espresso machine Ed and myself had tortured Ray for months to get.
“Are you ready to do your thing?” asked Ray.
I think there was some curiosity as to whether I was as good as my reputation had suggested. You see, in today’s world of mediocrity it’s strange to be competent, let alone good, at more than one thing. When I was growing up my father pounded it into me that no matter what a man does he should do it to perfection. So with this in mind I whipped up a few drinks for Ray, the staff, and myself.
“That’s the best I’ve ever had,” all agreed.
“I’ll be in from 8 to 10 tomorrow morning. Tell everyone it’s half off drinks when I’m making them,” I said, heading off to finish my blog on how scummy it is for AEG to stick the city with the 1.4 million dollar bill for the Michael Jackson memorial publicity stunt.
“I’ll send out an email,” Ray’s voice trailed after me.
I slept well that night, dreams of perfect white foam in my head. You see, foam must be stretched then textured—it should look like smooth white paint before being poured into your cup at a 45-degree angle.
I woke with a sense of excitement… Funny, it was almost exactly a year ago that my novel “Stan Lerner’s Criminal” won the Grand Prize at the Hollywood Book Festival…This wasn’t the same kind of excitement as hearing your name called out among a crowd of your peers, rather it was the excitement of being able to give people a great experience that they otherwise might not have had…I did my barista stretches and headed out the door.
Arriving a good half an hour before I was supposed to start there were already early patrons in need of espressos, cappuccinos, and lattes, so I wasted no time in suiting up—it felt good to have a chef’s hat and coat back on my body. Soon came the constant motion of pulling shots, steaming milk, and the oh so important, steady pour.
Much is said about the bean, and I do enjoy working with a great bean, but the truth be told—the way your drink tastes is almost completely up to the barista. And ninety-nine out of a hundred baristas are not baristas at all.
And yes an 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. appearance became a 7:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m appearance, but “Hygge” does mean to hang out and be close. What better way to do this than over a real handmade espresso drink and pastry?
Wondering when I’ll be back at Hygge? Wondering when you’ll be able to get those espresso drinks at half-price again?
Okay, I’ll be behind the bar tomorrow, Monday, July 20th, 8:00 a.m. but I have to be at the Marketing Round Table at 2:00, and I have a lot of writing to do, so get there by noon and we’ll Hygge.