Most of the cafes I've been to so far don't even brew decaf. The anti-corporate activists can rail against Starbucks all they want, but guess what? Starbucks lets me order whatever I want, and then they make it without rolling their eyes. And they paint snowflakes on their windows!
So my second choice has been, lately, hot cocoa, and let me tell you, no one can make it. It's been, simply, a cup of artfully steamed milk with a small drip of chocolate lying on the bottom. At my old job in Brooklyn (right next to the park and a billion different schools) I made hot cocoas all day long. The trick is, it takes a lot more chocolate syrup than you'd think. Enough that the people watching you make it wonder if they even want it anymore. And you must mix with a spoon; don't think the heavy steamed milk pour with do the job for you. Nix the latte art, plop on those marshmallows!
Hovering parents were always fond of instructing me on the precise temperature of the milk, as we don't want to burn any tongues, do we? Like a hot cocoa was practically a loaded gun. Once a particularly horrible woman micromanaged her order so intensely that her kid then spilled hot cocoa all over the floor about two seconds after she put the cup in his hand. Enter me with a mop, at which point horrible lady taps me on the shoulder and says, "Do I have to buy another one, or can you just make it again?" And then, when I silently nodded and pushed the mop around a couple more times so that other customers wouldn't slip coming in the door she looked at her watch worriedly and sighed.
And then I made the worst hot cocoa I've ever made, with way too much milk and not enough chocolate and a whole lot of spite but no marshmallows, and the boy who had spilled it took one sip and whined quietly to his mom as she pushed her brood out the door, "It doesn't even taste like chocolate."
Perhaps this is penance for that. Because it wasn't his fault for having a completely horrible mom. But what am I going to do now to appease the hot cocoa gods?
(*But you know what? No. Seattle is NOT very Christmas-y. Grinches! Even Bob Dylan celebrates the season. With Polka! All I'm asking for is a few twinkle lights in my neighborhood.)