Today, in honour of Starbucks baristas who really, really love their jobs.
I think I have mentioned before that my usual autumnal order from Starbucks is a pumpkin soy misto. I'm not really a lover of fancy coffees, but normal milk makes me feel a bit sick (possibly just a psychosomatic hangover from a traumatic experience at Guide camp), a latte involves too much soy milk and they won't serve me black coffee with pumpkin in it. So I often have to explain - half filter coffee, half forthed soy milk, add pumpkin.
I was walking to my exam board course last month and stopped at Starbucks on Southampton Row to attempt to order this drink. The poor barista was non-plussed. I explained it but he still did not seem to follow and struggled with it on the till - it's not on the menu but it is in the till, somewhere. Luckily a Scottish barista swooped in to save him.
"It's this," he said, and then to me, as I apologised profusely for ordering something difficult, "it's not difficult. It's fine. Have you ever had a red eye? Ooooh have you ever had a BLACK EYE?!"
I had not.
"A red eye is half filter coffee, half frothed milk with a shot of espresso. A black eye is the same, only two shots of espresso."
I expressed a preference for the latter, with pumpkin. The barista became very excited and swung into action. The original barista was still trying to follow the first order but was swept aside in the coffee maelstrom. I tried to explain.
"I'm having basically what I originally ordered," I said, "but we're replacing some of the milk with..."
"With coffee!" cackled the coffee wizard of Bloomsbury. "Put it in the till as this, we're nice."
It was a little cup of heaven. The extra coffee meant that it wasn't overly sweet, even with five pumps of pumpkin in it. And he even wrote it on a label for me, so I could order it again - which I have. Nobody really gets it. "Some weird...thing?" they call, when my order is ready. It's never as good. And I never know what it's going to cost.
I called it the Bloomsbury Bruiser, inspired by the name black eye, but I think it should really be the Bloomsbury Bright Eyes. Large cup, half filter coffee, a double shot, 5 pumps of pumpkin, top up with soy milk, whipped cream on top (because I love a paradox).
Well done, coffee wizard of Bloomsbury. You are doing an excellent job.