Young and Hungry

How a Free Copy of the ‘Hill Rag’ Set Me Back $2

Let me tell you how the Hill Rag, a free monthly, cost me $2 this morning.

I stopped on the Hill today to eat breakfast and buy a cup of Joe from my current favorite, Peregrine Espresso, located in the former Murky Coffee spot, site of the late unpleasantness. I ordered a to-go cup made from beans imported from Burundi, a country better known for its ethnic violence and its brain-numbing level of poverty. Coffee exports, it seems, have given this poorer-than-dirt-poor country some hope. (Just don't tell that to the women during bean-picking season.)

Economic hope and the morality of supporting abusive coffee pickers were the furthest things from my mind, however, when I ordered my coffee. Instead, I was daydreaming about the flavors packed into this caramel-colored liquid. Peregrine's sign, perched on the counter next to the ordering station, informed me that Burundi "Bwayi" coffee boasts notes of lemon and figs and other flavors I can't now remember.  I just remember how happy I was to try a new coffee, even at $2-plus for a rather small cup.

I stood there at the counter as the barista ground the beans and placed them into a fresh filter. She then pulled hot water from a heating unit set to the perfect temperature for drip coffee, around 208 degree Fahrenheit. She proceeded to slowly pour that piping hot water into the filter, and I continued to stand there, mesmerized and expectant, as the liquid fell in a steady stream into my paper cup. When the exacting process was finally finished,  I grabbed a lid, sealed off my cup, and fled the shop with my small taste of Burundi firmly in hand.

I took a few sips of the coffee and detected a light, almost pinot noir-like flavor. But the liquid was still too hot for my tongue to appreciate the coffee's full pleasures. So I continued to walk to the car, waiting for the liquid to reach its perfect drinking temperature.

That's when I spotted the Hill Rag box, not far from the temporary home of the Eastern Market. I bent down to pick up a copy of the free publication, and as I did, my exquisite cup of Burundi caught the edge of the box's door and dropped to the ground with a devastating thud, spilling its vital fluids all over the sidewalk like some homicide victim. I stood there for a second, dumbfounded by my stupidity. I shouted the first word that came to mind, no matter what child may be within earshot: "Fuck!"

I thought about going back to Peregrine and spinning a sad tale about dropping my coffee, hoping they'd take pity on me and offer up a free cup. But I didn't think that was right; the shop shouldn't pay for my clumsiness. Besides, I was parked in a 15-minute zone. I had a bad feeling that my $2 copy of the Hill Rag might turn into a $32 one, with the addition of District of Columbia parking ticket.

  • dan riley

    That blows. Welcome back.

  • Oh_The_Inanity

    Please write more 500 word essays detailing your spilled beverages. They are FASCINATING.

    (Unsubscribing from this blog.)

  • Tim Carman

    Tough crowd this morning.

  • Nick

    Too bad. You missed out on a great coffee!

    (P.S. When does the statute of limitations run out on having to mention murky when writing about Peregrine? )

  • Tim Carman

    Good question, Nick. I think the time is approaching. And I'm glad you picked up on the coffee part of the post. While I did make fun of my clumsiness and what it cost me, I felt the post was as much about telling folks about a great coffee (and the pains to which Peregrine goes to prepare it right). That may have been lost on my now-former reader, Oh_The_Inanity.

  • Sam

    You should be drinking iced coffee this time of year ... they do a nice one.

  • trulee pist

    Here's what you do: You order a Peregrine double espresso in a cup of ice. You take your iced espresso over to the condiment table, and fill the rest of the cup of ice and espresso with half and half. Then you put a lid on it and give it a little shake. Presto, you got your $5 iced latte for the price of a ($2!) cup of coffee.

    And I agree. No need to bring the recent unpleasantness into the conversation.