Sunday, December 10th, 2023 Alive 19,220 days
Todayʼs coffee is Peppermint Mocha Latte from Bayou and Bean in downtown Houston.
Bayou and Bean is the Brigadoon of coffee shops. It appears out of the mists of the Four Seasons Hotel lobby in the morning, and evaporates into the ether by tea time. The atmosphere is mid-2000ʼs conventioneer-on-an-expense-account with shadowy nooks, plump leather, and highly-curated shelves of books that no one will ever read, but everyone will claim to have read.
The coffee, fortunately, doesnʼt match the pastiche of the décor. Itʼs authentically good stuff. Flavorful, but not overpowering. The peppermint is pronounced, but restrained. And the texture is entirely correct. This isnʼt watery Dunkinʼ Dishwater. And itʼs not the gelatinous sludge that passes for coffee-inspired drinks at Starbucks these days. The texture is smooth, but still useful to clear oneʼs throat on a froggy morning. Itʼs the Platonic ideal that Dunkinʼ and ʼBucks swing for, but miss.
The peppermint, itself, is worthy of a paragraph here. Itʼs unlike peppermint coffee flavoring Iʼve had anywhere else. Minty, but not sharp. Itʼs a well-rounded mellow kind of mint. Iʼve read that 90% of the “peppermint” flavoring on the market is actually not peppermint, but lesser ingredients tarted up with chemicals and alcohol to simulate peppermint. If thatʼs true, then this Bayou and Bean coffee must be the real thing.
At least, I hope it is, since this coffee is priced even above Starbucksʼ tariff. But thatʼs to be expected. After all, you do get to sip it on the button-plush leather of a Four Seasons hotel lobby.
Like most good hotels, discretion is prized at the Four Seasons, and the coffee follows. It is presented in an anonymous white cup with an anonymous white sleeve topped with an anonymous black lid. Itʼs not a red-on-brown-and-beige gas station coffee presentation pretending to be an artisanal western Oregon roasting co-op. This is a paper cup for people who are bigger than the brands on the cup. But for those who know — they know.