Ok, it’s time for part three of the places to get coffee from that aren’t Starbucks, or whatever I’ve called it.

There’s a Starbucks on the corner of Pitt Street and K Road. Just across Pitt Street and down K Road a bit is Brazil. It could be named after the coffee-producing country, or it could be named after the Terry Gilliam film. Or maybe it’s a bit of both. It’s got the coffee and it’s got a really unusual interior.

The building its used to be just an alleyway leading to the back of Mercury Theatre, but then narrow, deep building was built in the gap and it was a fruit shop for years. Now Brazil lives there.

I really like the mezzanine level. It reminds me of old suburban coffee bar mezzanines and the adventure of bringing your tray with a sausage roll, a lamington and a plastic bottle of pretend orange juice up the stairs. But today at Brazil all I had to carry was a glass of orange juice, my latte was being brought up by the staff.

The seating up stairs looks like it’s from an old bus. It fits right in with the very non-renovated walls. The ceiling has layers of peeling cream and green paint which from a distance look like a map that’s been painted on the ceiling.

There was no ambient jazz playing in the background. Instead the foreground music was some really stimulating, really satisfying reggae. (I think I’ve developed a thing for reggae.)

Places like Brazil don’t/won’t/can’t get killed off by Starbucks because they exist outside of the Starbucks universe. You can’t just pop into Brazil for a quick coffee, you have to be enveloped by the Brazil existence for a while.

My latte was good. I was very pleased with it. I’m also going to recommend the coffee milkshake Brazil does. It’s $5, but it is so incredibly good that it’s worth every last cent. It kicks the arse of a Frappaccino.

Fun for the whole family

First, a random quote:

“This will be a free family fun day with lots of prizes and fun activities for the whole family.”

Are things like this ever really fun for the whole family? Or do guilty parents drag their kids along for some quality time, ignoring the fact that staying indoors with the Barbies and the Playstation might actually be their kid’s preferred use of the day. Maybe.

Hey, part two of the tentative series about alternatives to Starbucks.

When the Ponsonby Road Starbucks opened, people reckoned on of two things would happened. Either the Starbucks would suck up all the business of the local cafes, forcing the locally owned cafes to close and transforming the Three Lamps End of Ponsonby Road into even more of a mall. Or no one would go to the Starbucks and it would close in a couple of months.

Neither happened. The Starbucks happily co-exists along with the cafes down that end of Ponsonby Road. Even just a quick walk-by will show that the kind of people who go to that Starbucks aren’t the kind of people who’d normally go to any of the other cafes.

But anyway, just down from Starbucks is Espresso Love. I have much love for Espresso Love. It’s very hippyish and there’s all this new age decor. They do a larger than usual amount of vegan menu items, but there’s meat there too. They also do a range of really good smoothies. But I was there for the coffee. I ordered a latte and went out into the garden out the back.

There was a little fountains and heaps of plants. Its was lovely. The coffee came in a bowl, which I don’t like, but I guess latte-in-bowls is just a cultural quirk of New Zealand, up with which I should put. But it was good coffee, very creamy, which I think makes a good latte.

Blah blah blah coffee.

Five things.

Stuff that happened today.

1. Whenever I go to St Lukes people apologise to me. I don’t seem to get this reaction at any other mall. Fo’ example, today I was walking along a corridor. I needed to turn right down another corridor that lead to the toilets. A woman was coming along that corridor and we ended up reaching the corner at the same time. We both paused and she said “oh, sorry.” What was she apologising for? I was in her way as much as she was in my way. I’ve also noticed a few times at St Lukes I’ve been in a crowded store and have kind of bumped into someone and they’ve said sorry. It always seems to be women, and I’m getting sick of it. Stop apologising!

2. Waiting at the lights on Dominion Road I saw the most spectacular sight. A woman, probably in her late 30s, was walking along the road. She was wearing a pair of baggy, MC Hammer-style pants. The fabric was a red and white pattern and was quite a thin fabric. I know this because I could see her underwear. Oh, how I could see her underwear. She had a pair of black bikini briefs on. They were so clear through her trousers that it was almost as if she was only wearing her underwear. Was it deliberate? Was she going for a “I don’t give a damn about fashion” thing, or did she just not look in the mirror before she left the house?

3. I was driving up One Tree Hill and there were cows all over the road. It was quite exciting driving through the cows. It reminded me of living in the country, when there was that day when all the farmers used to herd their cows down to the saleyards. (I hated living in the country. Like, do you know how inherently uncool cow poo is?). As I slowly drove through the cows one of them jumped up and started humping another – right next to my car. Wow, a hot bovine lesbo a go-go show.

4. I was going to get a latte from Starbucks at St Lukes. I waited in line one person made coffee, another made frappuccinos and another served at the tills. The serving girl was really, really slow. The following took place:

Serving Girl (at microwave): Um, excuse me, do you want this heated?
Customer: What?
Serving Girl (moves closer): Do you want this heated?
Customer: What is it?
Serving Girl (goes to cash register to see the name of the pastry): Um, the cinnamon roll. Do you want me to heat it?
Customer: Um…?
Serving Girl: I think they taste really nice when they are heated.
Customer: Uh, how hot?
Serving Girl: It makes it nice and warm.
Customer: Um, well, as long as it’s not too hot. I don’t want the icing dripping.
Serving Girl: Ok, right. I’ll heat it up for you.

She then went through a similar painful conversation about some minor detail of some other item ordered. I couldn’t stand being witness to such mundanity so I went downstairs and got a latte from the Take 5 coffee stand. I was served quickly and there was no arsing about with the customer ahead of me. By the time I’d put my change in my wallet, my coffee was ready. This may possibly be part one of an occasional series of visiting the nearest alternative to Starbucks (i.e., if, like my neighbour’s homemade bumper sticker says, friends don’t let friends drink Starbucks, where do you go for coffee?)

5. I don’t get why “Lose Yourself” by Eminem is so popular. I’ve always thought it was really mundane, but then, I’ve never really been big on those “go for it, don’t give up, hold on to your dreams” kind of songs. “Lose Yourself” seems like a combination of that kind of song and a promo from “8 Mile”. But so many people I know like it – I mean, really like it. It seems that even though the lyrics are pretty specific, people manage to put themself in the song and come out of it feeling elevated, uplifted and inspired. Well, that’s not a bad thing.