|Image from fourbarrelcoffee.com|
Hipsters can be identified by choice of clothes, usually a cross between GQ magazine and funky thrift store. Imagine a dude wearing a skullcap, full beard, lumberjack shirt, fitted shorts, and penny loafers without socks, and you have some idea of the look. Hipsters have an attitude of irrational confidence combined with some naiveté. They are liberal and devoted to less practical pursuits. For full disclosure, I might have been considered a hipster for about 6 months in 2002, so I know the breed, but I never transcended my inherent practicality. I have never seen more hipsters congregated together than I did at Four Barrel on this day and the level of devotion to the cause seemed complete.
As I waited in line, I examined the eclectic customers. A shop this popular has to appeal to a wide range. In addition to the many hipsters, there were several office workers, wearing tennis shoes and Patagonia jackets like me. The woman in front of me had a pink Mohawk, several piercings, and a girlfriend with no PDA boundaries. A man drinking coffee at one of the tables looked like Ernest Shackelton wearing a chamanto.
|Ernest Shackelton (left), a chamanto (right)|
As I approached the counter, I realized that every man who worked at Four Barrel had unique facial hair or some type of interesting hair arrangement. One guy had a long mustache growing on top of a trim beard. Another had no facial hair, but a dramatic, slicked-down comb over instead. Classic hipster.
When I arrived at the counter, I ordered a non-fat latte. The man behind the register, who incidentally had an elaborate mustache suitable for a villain in a Western movie, informed me that Four Barrel only serves soy and whole milk. I didn’t want the extra fat, so I went with soy, without understanding the appeal. I didn’t want to be schooled on the finer points of dairy options for coffee, so I didn’t ask either.
|Photo by niallkennedy|
I picked up some packaged coffee beans on the counter and noticed a roasting date about a week old. “Do you have anything roasted more recently,” I asked, as I held up the package and tapped the roast date, with a look of concern. “Actually,” he said, “the flavor of coffee beans peak six days after roasting.” Oh. After some back and forth, I grabbed another bag off the shelf at random, which happened to be roasted two days earlier. I told him that I wanted to brew coffee next week, as if I needed to explain my choice.
After paying, I shuffled to the left to wait for my drink, and examined crates upon crates of old school records just beyond the barista. I appreciate the retro-coolness of records and have briefly considered purchasing a record player at times, though not recently and not seriously. In the days of iPods, a record player in a retail shop is outrageous though I appreciate the stubbornness.
After I received my coffee, I walked past the counter to the in-house roaster and saw the machine slowly browning beans. The sight was interesting, though I was more curious about the young boy staring at the roasters, the same way that I looked at baseball players when I was younger. He leaned his body across the table to be closer to the action and nibbled on a plate full of literally six different donuts and other pastries. His parents were beaming.
The hipster tornado spit me out on Valencia and I felt as if I had returned from another world. How was the coffee? Good. It was fine. I’d go back for the scene though.