Ambience, Coffee, Neighborhoods, Nontraditional, Presentation, Service, Strip District, Techniques and tools

More than coffee.

It looks like coffee. I get it.

Still looks like coffee. Yeah. I — I know.

But this is why there are such things as $11,000 Clover coffee machines. And baristas who describe coffee like Jancis Robinson talks about wine, all “earthy” and “notes of citrus and leather” and “whisper of cherries.”

This is 21st Street Coffee in the Strip District. And there aren’t exactly rules, but there might as well be.

1. If you don’t drink your coffee black, don’t spend $4.20 on a 16-ounce cup. Just go to Starbucks. Everyone is aghast behind your back and it’s just not worth it. It’s like making spritzers out of a 1982 Margaux.

2. Sip. This is not mainline-three-shots-of-espresso-STAT coffee. Nor is it 3 a.m. drunk-in-a-diner coffee. This is Mad Elf coffee. Vertical Epic coffee. Petrus 1947 coffee. Butter-poached lobster coffee.

3. Appreciate what you’re drinking. The caffeine will make it into your system, surely, but just pause a minute and taste it. Enjoy it. See if you can’t find those notes of citrus. Turn on a different part of your brain.

All that can seem unnecessary. It’s just coffee. But it doesn’t have to be.

Either by training or personal inclination, the baristas there care about what you’re drinking. Don’t know what you want? Talk about what you like. Heavy, rich, light, smooth. You don’t have to know their terminology. They seem thrilled — at their own askance and hipsterish remove — that you care enough to ask.

This place is about investigating pleasure, getting more out of something because you know or are learning more about it.

It’s an easy adventure in a paper cup. Just put down that milk and take what they give you.