Joe By The Tree

A cup of café latte (left) and macchiato (right).
A cup of café latte (left) and macchiato (right).

Christmas can’t ever be merry without a tree, can it? So, like most years, we arrived at the giant, Swarovski-crowned Norwegian spruce, at 30 Rockefeller Plaza, by way of a dense forest of tourists.

The decision to bedeck the tree in strings of energy-saving LEDs—a practice followed since 2007—has, no doubt, made it an eco-friendly attraction.

That has, in effect, also made the tree all the greener to the naked eye. With the bright yellow incandescence of old-fashioned light bulbs taken away, its green needles appear to radiate their lushness all the more strongly.

Were one to be a pessimist, however, one might observe that, for the very same reason, the tree has become more lackluster and dimmer. What is a diode next to a glowing filament, after all? M. and I stood admiring it no longer than it was necessary to take a customary snap of what’s come to be a towering emblem of the holidays, at least, in the West.

The outing wouldn’t be festive enough without victuals. We’d planned to combine our trip to the tree with a stop at the San Francisco-based coffeehouse chain, Blue Bottle Coffee, whose praise I’d heard.

In our search for it, we very nearly got swallowed up by the teeming crowds pushing their through the concourse of 1 Rockefeller Center. Squeezed between a ‘Wichcraft and a ladies room, the store doesn’t easily announce itself to visitors. We discovered it on the second try, after passing it by once. M. ordered a macchiato; I, a café latte. They were “to stay.”

When the barista kindly laid them out on the counter, in matching brown cups and saucers, I picked up the macchiato, leaving M. to collect the café latte, but not out of a callous disregard for her preference. I was merely choosing the smaller cup.

A feature of interest was the Rosetta, a latte art that adorned both our coffees. We began to sip. A quick thought flashed through my mind as my tongue came into contact with the hot beverage: why are fancy coffees never quite as piping hot as our own morning cup of Joe?


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