Kick in the pants

A kick in the pants is a coffee-based drink, consisting in one shot of espresso added to a cup of drip coffee.

You get the aroma and almost all the purity and cleanliness of the drip coffee, and the espresso adds some extra body (and caffeine). It’s something in between the two; worth trying out!

Since the only thing that can fight indulgent stupors is a cup of strong espresso coffee, and there’s been a bunch of said stupors during these festive days, I’ve been making good use of our Bialetti coffee maker.

If we don’t drink all the espresso in a batch, I store it in a jar and use it the next day to make a couple of “kick in the pants”.

Ingredients

  • Coffee beans for filter
  • Coffee beans for espresso

And of course, the brewing equipment! In our case:

  • a Hario coffee grinder
  • v60 paper filter, the dripper
  • the jar
  • another jar to pour hot water
  • a scale to measure amounts of things

Preparation

  1. Grind the beans if they’re not ground yet (obviously, grind the espresso beans separately from the filter beans!).
  2. Brew one shot of espresso per person. I use about 5.3g per shot (32g for a 6 cup maker), using a Bialetti italian coffee maker. Alternatively, you could use a nespresso or similar machine—but aim for the short and strong coffees, not the ‘lungo’ setting.
  3. Brew your drip coffee as usual. I use a v60 filter, with a 16g coffee beans to 250ml water ratio.
  4. Then, either add one shot to each cup, or if your coffee is still dripping, pour the espresso over the wet ground coffee and let them drip down too. This removes the ‘particles’ from the espresso, so it becomes more like a drip coffee version of espresso.
  5. Done! Drink and enjoy the caffeine PUMP! 💣

Please note that the ratios and amounts of coffee are a very personal matter and I’d advise you to experiment and change things until you find your favourite combination. Is it too strong? Is it too weak? Be playful!

The origin story

The counter at Dana Street Roasting Company, with cup holders, tea bags, stickers

I discovered this drink in one of my early trips to the Bay Area.

I was, as usual, extremely jetlagged. A full day of presentations and sessions was ahead of me, and I needed something to wake me up. Fortunately, my colleagues and me agreed to meet at Dana Street Roasting Company before going to the office. “Dana”, as we colloquially called it, because the full name is a mouthful, is a laid back coffee shop off Mountain View’s main street, Castro.

As it was early in the morning, it was quiet. Mountain View “hackers” are more of a late(r) morning crowd, so it was mostly a mix of people reading newspapers and having breakfast at that time, rather than the furious laptop typing or conference calls you’d expect.

I was going to order a latte (flat whites hadn’t arrived there yet) when I somehow decided to focus all my woken up neurons into attentively reading the drinks list, and my half-open eyes stumbled upon this esoteric sounding drink which suddenly sounded exactly like what my senses needed: a (figurative) kick in the pants!

It was funny to order one: I was deeply intrigued by the sound of it, my colleagues were amused by my choice of drink, the barista was initially amused too because we all were amused, and then just very matter-of-factly brewed a espresso shot into a big cup and handed it to me while pointing to the big tanks of already brewed drip coffee for me to finish filling the cup with.

In all honesty, I would still find it quite amusing to ask for a “kick in the pants” out aloud nowadays! And it is also really funny to offer one: “Would you like a kick in the pants?” Devvers was extremely confused when I suggested this just last week!

The first time at Dana

I visited this coffee shop for the first time after I finished an intense day of job interviews.

After all the adrenaline ran out, I was starting to feel the jetlag kick in, and my brain was telling me “you should go to bed now, there’s no reason why you should be awake, it’s midnight for you and you know it“. But I didn’t want to go to bed that early, or I would just wake up at 2 AM and be destroyed for the rest of the day.

Somehow, either my instincts or the internets brought me to this place. I’m not quite sure how it was, because I didn’t “have data” on my phone at that time—this was before international roaming was a commonplace event. Maybe I starred it for offline navigating. Who knows!

Dana, from Google Street View

It was quite unassuming, just a neighbourhood coffee house, in a low one storey building. None of the pretend-fancy decorations you find in chain coffee shops. Things were authentically used here and not “artificially stressed”. I liked the vibe!

I ordered a coffee and some pastry, and was confusedly looking around for perhaps a table to sit in, but all of them were in use. After a while, I started noticing a persistent question in the background:

Simone?

Simone…?

Hello, Simone?

I turned to my left and I saw a guy in his early sixties sitting at the closest table. He said it again, even more hopeful:

Simone!

I realised he had been trying to address me all this time that I was dazed and confused!

Sorry, but I… am not Simone!

He was quite surprised. “But you do look like Simone, my daughter’s friend!”.

And in that strange and whimsical way I ended up joining him at the table, and talking about all sorts of things. Who I really was, what his daughter did, what he did now, what he used to do before he reinvented himself, how you can fail multiple times in the States and eventually get yourself together and prevail over all odds, versus the catastrophic way you can only fail or succeed once in parts of Europe (once you choose your fate, that’s it).

I particularly remember that he was quite amused at the way I pronounced “dingy” (| ˈdɪngi |instead of | ˈdɪn(d)ʒi |), but he got what I meant, and told me, very casually, how it’s meant to be pronounced. To this date I still feel sometimes compelled to pronounce it ‘wrongly’ to see what reaction does it cause on people!

And that’s how my first Dana visit went!

If you’re around Mountain View you probably already know the place, but just in case you don’t, you should totally visit them and ask for a kick in the pants (it’s still in their menu!!). Their website has the updated opening times; they’re only operating a take-away service these days but hopefully you’ll get to experience their chilled out vibes sometime in the future.

Dana Street Roasting Company
744 W Dana St
Mountain View, CA, 94041

Ghostly coffee

A very empty Covent Garden
A very empty Covent Garden

I was walking around a very deserted Covent Garden a couple days before Christmas.

The market arcades and the streets looked like the setting for a movie in a ghost town, especially with the grey and gloomy light of that overcast afternoon.

In that dark setting, Monmouth Coffee stood out like a beam of light.

Festive looking Monmouth coffee company
Festive looking Monmouth coffee company

It was a sign: I needed their coffee for these festive days! And that’s how I walked out with 200g of espresso beans 😇

If you want to do the same (and you probably want), and find yourself in London, it’s worth paying them a visit. They have multiple locations (Borough and Spa Terminus in addition to this), but the Covent Garden address is:

27 Monmouth Street
London WC2H 9EU
https://www.monmouthcoffee.co.uk/

Things are weird and unpredictable these days, so do check the website for opening times!

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