The Brunching Shuttlecocks Ratings

Espresso has always struck me as the intellectual's equivalent of movie cowboys ordering rye whiskey in a dirty shot glass. It has the same connotation of ritualistic self-abuse in a community setting, only with more elaborate preparation. I back this up with the observation that all the praise I hear for espresso is for its potency rather than for its flavor. B

Con Panna
"Con panna" is Europe-speak for "I'd like Reddi-Whip on that, please." Once in a luna azzurra you find a shop that makes a dense, bitter whipped cream which goes well with the espresso, but by and large you get crappy fluffy whipped cream, leading to a sort of disconcerting Swiss-Miss-goes-Domme effect. C-

Iced Mocha
Mochae of any sort are lovely, but iced mocha on a hot day makes me happy to be alive, in the literal sense that it forcibly alters my brain chemistry. I've had them artistically choreographed into existence, and I've had them slapped together mechanistically, but like pizza and movies with "bikini" in the title, even when they're bad they're good. A+

Possibly the greatest slur against American culture since -- well, all the other really memorable slurs against American culture have come from Americans, so it's hard to compare. In an apparent retaliatory strike against General Foods "International" Coffees, continentals have decided to water down their espresso and blame us. Suffice to say the failings of espresso are emphasized and the admirable qualities minimized in this malconceived concoction. D

One of the great things about the West Coast is that we appropriate the food of other cultures first. Californians were enjoying pesto and sushi while Midwesterners were still getting used to the concept of salad bars. Chai, spicy East Indian tea mixed with milk, was until recently very difficult to track down even around here, but it has since become a staple of the caffeine-inhaling scene. This is all very self-aggrandizing, I know, but I have to make myself feel better about the fact that most restaurants around here wouldn't know a rare steak if it bled on them. B+

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