A holiday bush tale where Leopard goes in search of a decent cup of coffee and finds so much more.
chapter i – a bitter brew
“Isn’t it great?” enthused the leering Warthog.
“Didn’t tell you, huh? Huh?” he cried.
“er…yeah….” Leopard mumbled as he reluctantly sipped the murky black liquid.
The Warthog’s knowing grin widened even more, showing the yellowy gums that steadfastly gripped his rotting, brown-stained tusks.
Leopard took another sip and mock-smiled. It wasn’t nice. Not even close. It was pasty, and bitty. For all those grounds in it, Leopard would thought there’d at least be some flavour. Instead it was just very very hot, muddy water.
“er… it sure is hot’” – at least 8 degrees too hot mused Leopard mournfully.
“Yeah I boiled it up good!” sniggered Warthog, who moved in closer and lowered to a halitosis-soaked whisper. “It’s my secret”, he breathed with a conspiratorial wink, “and half the reason why I call the place Hog Coffee”
“…ah” … said Leopard.
This was Leopard’s 4th holiday morning in the bush and he was yet to find a decent cup of coffee. There were promises of caffeine nirvana under almost every Marula tree but sadly, none had had come close to delivering transcendence.
He had started at “The Latte Leopard”. The name had of course made him chuckle, so he had gone inside filled with milky hope. Instead he discovered they specialised in ‘flavoured lattes’ by adding all manner of sickly sweet extras – presumably to disguise the taste of their hideously poor beans. A suspicion, that later turned to fact after he ordered an Americano.
“Full of Beans” was next. It was run by a wired Meercat called Snitch who talked at high speed from the moment he walked in to the moment he walked out – stopping only to throw back espressos which kept magically appearing in his little paws. Clearly he drank too much of his own wares, but Leopard was hopeful the addict before him could pull a decent shot. How wrong he was. It was sour, burnt and had no crema, just a brownish smear on the side of the small cup – which, upon closer inspection, could actually have been dirt.
Day 3 involved an early morning visit to “The Double Shot Hunter”. The barista, a surly Honey Badger this time, looked blankly at Leopard when he asked for a macchiato. So, with a sigh, he carefully explained it was similar to a cortado – but of course very different because one obviously uses foam instead of steamed milk. The blank look turned to irritation, so Leopard hastily explained further that it was also along the lines of a flat white or a piccolo, either of which he would also be more than happy with. This caused Honey Badger to begin to growl. So, to keep the peace (and his perfect face) Leopard said he would actually be marvellously content with a simple cappuccino if it wasn’t too much trouble thank you very much. Honey Badger stared him down for 10 whole seconds before asking “so you want milk with it then?”.
chapter ii – hot, hot hot
“You’re new here aren’t you?”
The question ripped Leopard from his mournful memories and back to his current cup of hot (Hog) coffee.
He blinked up from the steam to the source of the question.
The sight before him completely evaporated any words from his mouth. And apparently all thoughts from his head.
Before him stood the most perfect cat. Graceful and poised with vast golden lakes for eyes that reached out and drowned him in their mysterious depths.
She reached out a perfect paw, “Hi, I’m Cheetah”
“er…um…Leopard”, he stumbled.
“Pleased to meet you, Leopard” she purred, shaking his paw.
Her touch was silken, yet powerful. Her claws (Un-retractable! Always ready for action!) grazed his pads as she took her paw back.
Leopard now found his voice; the words babbling out of him in a gush, “You can call me Leo though - my friends call me Leo – well some of them - which is kinda weird because I am an Aquarius, not a leo - and I am also not a lion - I am…a… leopard”.
“Yes,” she said. “I spotted that”.
His grin spread wider than his saucer eyes.
“Enjoying the coffee?” she enquired mildly.
“er…well…it’s …pretty…hot”. He couldn’t lie to this beauty.
“That’s his secret”
“So I have been told”
“Not so secret then, huh?”
“And …not so good either if we’re honest”
“Well, come along then.” She said and marched out the door.
chapter iii – make mine a double
Leopard gaped around him at the new wonderland. Coffee implements of every shape and size packed the shelves behind Cheetah, who now stood next to a gleaming, silver espresso machine. Pour overs, presses, filters, tampers and more, it was all here.
“Espresso, cappuccino, latte? Or are you more of a macchiato kinda chap?” Cheetah asked. “I also make a mean cortado if that’s your thing?”
His tongue was skipping almost as fast as his heart was.
“You know how to use that?” he pointed hopefully at the Aeropress behind her
“Well I do have a secret recipe” she grinned
“Inverted, 42 grams, medium grind, 250 mls water, 10 pour, 23 stir, 12 pour, 38 steep and then my final secret move.”
He held his breath…“Which is….?”
“…Well, if I told you, it wouldn’t be a secret now would it?” she winked slyly.
“Ha!” chuckled Leopard.
“The good news is that it’s a 2 cup recipe,” she said with flashing teeth. “Make yourself comfortable over by the window and I‘ll join you as soon as I am done”
A warm glow crept across Leopard’s entire coat and enveloped him in a gentle hug. He was now truly in heaven.
the end … and the beginning.