spro pros

September 16, 2008 – 12:52 am

last time we saw the zombie (top right score) and his ladye (left side), they were pretty much competing against themselves.

this blog is now coldly eyeballing the real estate in san francisco, which of course is where that zombie chris owens and his ladye m’lissa have landed for the moment. almost as startling as the notion that the blogfamily could soon plop down there is the thought that they were once here.


and suddenly it’s semi-wondrous that two people with trucks of taste — plus! — boxcars of verve actually loafed about atlanta for a year spreading their sort of humble coffee gospel … the same general region as this blog’s hinterlands and the ignoble section of the country that opened a recent b-mag piece on mr. sexy foam like this: “coffee in the south doesn’t … seem like a natural fit.”

and so it occurs to us that the dynamic duo proffer a very rare sort of coffee gospel, in which they are first able to blend seamlessly into a subculture, then patiently, quietly, demand that it do better. we once asked the world champeen what there is to do when a youngish barista person has reached a career apex and looks for a next act. well, these two sort of found one: raising the ante where you think the ante may not go up.

not enough that octane was THE place for coffee-conscious atlantans, already the best the city had to offer. it needed to be faithfully great. and we suspect — this is just a hunch — that they’re probably not just pulling shifts at ritual, already home of barista finalists and latte artists of some renown. instead, the standards are probably levitating.

coffee, of course, magnanimously allows us to perpetually pursue, to always improve. but the great, white risk of the third wave movement is that it’s just so fun, so doggone awesome, this specialty coffee thing, that hey, why don’t we just stop here and enjoy it? have a club, party endlessly? relish our notoriety and make like snobs? gild ourselves an echo chamber?

which always left us sort of intrigued by those two. chris had patience and knowledge tattooed on his arm (this is just a safe guess) but continued to learn via unconventional routes. m’lissa charmed converts in batches, then made them pass a standardized barista exam. streamline yourself wholly into a crowd, then subtly worked to change the focus, learning all the while. reformers, i think they call those types.

and now they’re gone. so ah, this isn’t really a burbling paean, or a sodden farewell, as much as it’s an overdue rumination on the way coffee collides with real people, and gets better because of what we learn there.

dropping by their last throwdown, this blog thought it a bit risky to try a bit of obscure french poetry as a going away gift, and opted to play it safe: a volume of the ever-layered t.s. eliot and a bottle of chimay. the zombie took one look, it turned out, then quoted some choice eliot lines and mentioned casually that he’d visited the belgian monastery where chimay is brewed.

shoulda known.

p.s. it would be hard to illustrate this reflection, visually, better than tonx does.