There are three rules when I make myself a cup of coffee:
1. It must have chocolate.
2. It must have a "flavor."
3. It must consist of no more than 1/3 actual coffee.
I started drinking coffee as a mistake. Four years I survived the streets of Seattle without touching the stuff, compensating with steamed milk and chai... and Seattle's Best Coffee hot chocolate, which came with a wonderful chocolate swizzle stick. Alas, since Starbucks bought out SBC this has been replace by the signature Starbucks "nasty" hot chocolate. The world grows lesser... but I digress.
My downfall came the day I started working at a summer camp. Mornings began with a staff meeting and Bible study, and I, not able to function properly before 10am, would immediately fetch a cup of hot chocolate in an attempt to pour some life into myself. Whether it was the sugar in the chocolate, or burning my tongue on the scalding liquid, or occasionally missing my mouth and ending up with a wet lap, it usually worked.
But the same machine that heated the water also made the coffee. Often after the coffee was made we would forget to remove the coffee grounds and turn it on again for straight hot water, resulting in water with a weak coffee flavor. Too groggy to wait for a second run of "clean" water, I started making my hot chocolates with this pansy coffee, and the long slide towards actual coffee began.
Of course, although I say "actual coffee," my concoctions usually make black coffee drinkers scoff. Over the years I have tinkered and dabbled with a whole host of strange ingredients, from peppermint sticks to powdered sage, searching for the perfect blended drink. Because my many different jobs often limited my choice of ingredients, I landed on a distinct morning boost for each one. My cafe's menu would look something like so:
The Flying Squirrel - A mocha with molasses. My wake-up for driving bumpy logging roads in Alaska.
The Man-O-War - Instant coffee and powdered milk, honey, melted milk chocolate, South American vanilla extract (which has more alcoholic content). Used to sit on the beach and watch the sun come up, Galapagos.
The Morning Mongoose - Steamed milk with brown sugar, cinnamon, rooibos tea. From my pre-coffee days, to take the sting out of the morning chill, South Africa.
The Akoekoe Kokonut - Kona coffee with brown sugar, moo cow milk, coconut milk. For the long walk to work, Hawaii.
Break Room Brew - Gritty coffee, milk probably past date, hot chocolate, sugar (remove flies.) The lumpy milk adds excitement! From the GF break room. Best enjoyed with a bolo levado and Bob Heath swearing in the background.
The Monterey Maple - A mocha with cream and maple syrup. My survival method for morning meetings, Massachusetts.
The Golden Aspen - A latte with pecan creamed honey. For recovering from long days of shovelling snow, Colorado.
But black coffee alone? Not on my watch! I'd rather suffer narcoleptic spells throughout the day than try to stomach the stuff. Baking chocolate needs sugar, yeast needs flour, and black coffee needs the entire contents of the pantry to cover its nigh unpalatable flavor.
Now here's a thought... In movies, they always show gruff generals planning out their war strategies over black coffee. No one ever plans out a war strategy over cinnamon eggnog latte. What if we could shove a caramel macchiato into the hand of every despotic tyrant in the world? Flavored coffee = worldwide peace? Hmm, think about it.