Though you, Smug readers, may have long since tired of the subject of overpriced coffee, Smug Scout was still smarting from her disappointing trip to Intelligentsia’s Chicago birthplace (subject of last week’s post “Smug Scout Shutout in Chicago”), so she was very relieved to return to the lap of Smugness in Silver Lake. Imagine her delight when she saw that Geisha Santuario was available in two forms: by the bag and by the cup. However, because Intelligentsia wants to exaggerate the exclusivity of this coffee (not unlike Hermès with “wait-list only” $10K Birkin bags), apparently to justify the jaw dropping cost for Smug suckers, the availability was limited and reluctant. On the shelf, behind the sign advertising half a pound for $80 in purposely fuzzy script, sat one lonely bag.
Then, when Smug Scout went to order, the Depression-era hipster café chimiste (or whatever Intelligentsia calls its employees) had to find out if it was even still possible to sell a cup of this exotic moneymaker. Smug Scout acted polite and excited, though she felt sardonic and foolish. She shelled out her $10 with alacrity (inexplicably $2 cheaper than in Chicago) and then of course had to wait twenty minutes while the café chimiste did all sorts of things with beakers, flasks, test tubes and other unidentifiable chemistry lab apparatus. Smug Scout hated chemistry in high school, so you can count on the fact that she does not know what she is talking about here, but she is nonetheless fairly certain that the café chimiste was stealthily using an antique Bunsen burner to get the coffee up to 210 degrees because she cannot imagine any other explanation for having to wait so fucking long for one cup of coffee. As she was waiting, she had plenty of time to think about the geishas and wonder if they got into “boutique” bio-diverse shade grown direct trade coffee because they were tired of dealing with rightwing paramilitary cocaine traffickers or if they realized they could make more money with Smug coffee than coca plants. (Again, Smug Scout is not an expert here. Most of what she knows about Colombian cocaine production and distribution comes from “Miami Vice.”)
Anyway, when Smug Scout finally got her coffee, she was anxious to see if she could detect how the “bouquet of jasmine and orange blossom greets the palate, followed by the effervescent acidity of tangerine, raspberry and black currant.” She even drank it black so she could be more sensitized to these tasting notes. No luck. No matter how much sniffing, swirling, and oxygenating she did (i.e. pointlessly treating it like wine), the best she could come up with is “better than Starbucks.” The main thing she noticed was that despite allegedly being heated to 210 degrees, it got cold within minutes. So was it worth it? Not exactly. On the plus side, however, when Smug Scout went in for a second, cheaper ($5) cup of coffee and earnestly asked the café chimiste for a recommendation of what to drink following the Geisha Santuario–either Indonesian or Ethiopian varietals with zany names intended to stymie all pronunciation attempts–Smug Scout was amazed to find that the café chimiste actually comped her this one! Only in L.A., Smug Scout thinks. Smug Scout’s friend Rosa also believes it was a reward for being the first friendly
mark customer at Intelligentsia. Rosa believes Silver Lake hipsters would never ask a café chimiste for an opinion because they are all already experts. Is Smug Scout now an expert on Geisha Santuario coffee? Yes, as long as you do not mind that she made up half of what she has written about it. If you do not like that level of accuracy, then Smug Scout will recommend that if you have questions about cocaine you should probably not ask Don Johnson.