“Our café du jour is New Zealand Peaberry.” The lesson about never letting the world leave you behind.

Saturday night, I had a Paulie moment.

In Season 1 of The Sopranos, (first aired January 1999), Paulie wants a coffee. So he walks into a local hipsters’ coffee bar and asks for a coffee. He’s offered every combination. “You got, er, just coffee?”

“Our café du jour is New Zealand Peaberry.”

He has the grace to wave his hand, “Whatever.”

Flat White

My Saturday was ‘dads and kids’ camping. Kids get to play together – some outdoors stuff, some moments of guilt for me while they were outdoors playing iPhone games – and dads get to talk dad-stuff.

When the kids had finally gone to bed, one of the dads mentioned the Flat White. I’d never had a Flat White. So someone explained the Flat White to me by reference to the cappuccino and the latte. And distinguishing it from the ristretto. Then someone said “Only Italians could have applied so much imagination to the many intricate nuances possible in a cup of coffee.”

And over the next half hour, we unwrapped a little of the design and verbal branding of Italians and coffee. Do the Italians love engineering only for something that encourages intimacy ( -think of fussy but beautiful Italian automotive design and how it’s always better for 2 doors & 2 seaters)?

The English, with their focus on mass-usage engineering might have come up with different cups and a less romantic verbal identity. George Stephenson might have called his intense black coffee The Inspirer. Sir Isambard Kingdom Brunel would perhaps have invented the Clifton Foam Suspension Coffee.

For my English ear, the Italian verbal identity of coffee is part of the romance.

Macchiato sounds small and butch, and really it is.
Cappuccino, in my mouth, sounds round and soft. (Does it originally take its name from the Cappuccio, the hood worn by the Capuchin monks? Possibly. But out of gratitude to the order of monks who originally gave them shelter, they’d adopted a hood and beard. Most pictures of Capuchin monks show them with the hood dropped low over the back of their neck, but with a nice flowing white beard.)

Capuchin monk - all beard and no hoodThe Capuchin monk – inspiration for the name of the Cappucino?

When we’d exhausted all talk of coffee, there was a moment of silence and we all looked up at the stars. And realised we knew none of the names of the constellations.

So Dad Richie went into his tent and pulled out his iPhone4 with his Pocket Universe App. That was good.

But not as good as when Dad Mark went into his tent and pulled out his iPad2 with his Star Walk App.

We played with them for a while, learnt a little and then carried on discussing matters of global importance.

I realised that I was happy our children were camping under the stars. But I was equally happy that they’d played on the iPhone. Because if you don’t understand the iPhone today, you’ll find it harder to understand whatever comes next.

Unfortunately, I see some of this already with the clients out there. They think Social Media is having a Facebook strategy – and they don’t want to do it because they’re not exactly sure of what it’ll give them.

The best clients are jumping in anyway, perhaps it’ll give them not much. But without it, they realise they’ll be like Paulie, asking for ‘just a coffee’ while the rest of the world is enjoying the Flat White.


Raising a cup to you,