Thursday, 3 January 2008

How hard is it to get an iced coffee around here?

This is Yass.

Ok, it is not Yass. It is not even the outskirts of Yass. It is the huge truck stop where the Hume Highway bypasses Yass. Yass is some kilometres down a horrible access road out the back somewhere. This is as close as I like to get to Yass, and I'd prefer it if the Yassarians (Yasserites?) didn't get as close to me as they sometimes get.

We usually stop here because it is the last outpost of drinkable coffee before you hit Wagga. And Wagga is about two hours from here, and the last drinkable coffee is an hour back up the road at Goulburn. I just can't do the three hours from Goulburn to Wagga without pulling in here for a leak and a top-up.

The other good thing about stopping here is that you are encouraged to do lots of arm exercises to ward of deep vein thrombosis. The fly population is such that the trip from the car to the front door is a blur of maniacally waving arms and expletives about "These fucking flies". The locals don't seem to notice, but then many of the locals are the sort that wander around with their mouth open all the time. Spare us from mouth breathers. Then again, they probably suck in a reasonable percentage of the fly population, so I shouldn't be too hard on them.

Ray Kroc (the guy that started McDonalds) would have a fit if he entered this store. I read that he was a maniac when it came to cleanliness, and the dead flies lining the windows, and the crap all over the floor of the toilets would have had him running around disemboweling store managers. As he should. If I am going to eat a packet of fries, I don't want to do it next to a pile of flies - dead or alive.

Eating outside this store is an exercise in recreating Gallipoli. You remove your Quarter Pounder from the packet, madly shoo away 1000 flies and then rapidly take a bite in the hope that you don't scoop up a few fat, slow movers in the process. Getting through a Quarter Pounder without inhaling as many flies as you have fingers is no mean feat.

And if you always wondered why they put lids on the drinks, its to stop them being used as insect swimming pools at places like this.

But I don't mind any of those things. I don't even mind the fat bogans in the their late 1980's Commodores with the peeling paint and the sagging doors and the bonnet scoop and the greasy hair. I don't mind the staring retards that seem to be occupying most of the seats. I don't mind the reeking baby change room.

But I do mind the lack of a proper iced coffee. It shits me to tears. I have written about this before, but if I go to Gloria Jeans (of which there is one in Wagga) and order an Iced Latte, they will give me a big plastic cup that contains one or more shots of proper coffee, milk and ice. They usually ask me if I want whipped cream on top, and after restraining myself from hurling them through the plate glass window out the front, I politely decline. The Gloria Jeans people know how to make a passable iced coffee - but never ask for an iced coffee. That is made up with pre-mixed powdery shit that tastes vaguely of chocolate rather than coffee. And its sweetened to death. I can't bear any form of sweetness in my iced coffee. It has to be strong and punchy - the coffee that real men drink when its 42 in the shade.

As an aside, iced coffee consumption is pretty pathetic in NSW, Victoria and Queensland. In the NT, it appears to be the beverage most consumed after beer. In WA and SA, annual consumption is enormous. I attended an AGSM conference years ago and had a discussion with a marketing manager from a Qld milk outfit. She told me that their market research showed that WA and SA between them drank 4 times more iced coffee than the entire eastern states put together. That's not per-head; that's total volume. Given that the east has about 5 times more people than WA and SA between them, the sandgropers are drinking 20 times more iced coffee than the cockroaches and mexicans. I think it has a lot to do with the weather, and the fact that iced coffee in WA is both drinkable and as available as Coke. Brownes and Masters (the two market leaders in iced coffee) have done an amazing job in building up their distribution outlets.

But back to Yass.

Every McCafe that I have been into refuses to make me a proper iced coffee (or iced latte to use Gloria Jeans parlance). They insist on selling me pre-mixed snot which is made with coffee syrup that is apparantly caffeine free. I can't stand the stuff. I ordered it once at the McCafe next to RPA hospital, took a sip, frowned, took another sip and put $5 worth of beverage down on the counter and walked out. Since my philosophy is to try most things twice (in case you got a bad run the first time), I gave it another go somewhere else.

Same result.

Working to the principle that the definition of insanity is to continue doing the same thing and expecting a different result, I gave up buying extortinately priced dog piss from McCafes.

I did however start to ask them to make me an iced latte. I explained how Gloria Jeans did it, in the hope that if they could see that someone else could do it, then they would do it too.

No dice.

I then skipped the Gloria Jeans angle and just asked for a cup with ice, milk and a shot of coffee.

No dice. That combination is not in the operations manual.

I then gave up. No use flogging a dead horse.

But I am going to try a sneaky angle next. Last week, I got into the habit of going into the Gloria Jeans in Wagga and ordering an iced latte for me and a bottle of milk for Monkey (I provided the milk bottle). They charged me $4.50 for my milk, ice and coffee and 45 cents for the same amount of milk for Monkey. Boy, ice must be expensive in Wagga. But I will not complain - I was just grateful that they'd fill up my Monkey pacifier for the hour long trip back to Narrandera.

That got me thinking - can I try a similar stunt at a McCafe? Monkey loves eating ice blocks, so I will hand over his bottle and ask for them to fill it with milk, and a cup with some ice to "soothe his fever". No one can resist helping a sick kid. Then I'll order me a single shot of coffee.

Then I'll mix all three together in front of them and run out of the store before they lynch me.

Wish me luck.

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