Cranky Pants


Splitting his time between Guerneville and Manhattan, acclaimed consultant Clark Wolf graces these pages with the occasional diatribe from the periodic local.

OK, I’ve had it. I’m totally sick and tired of people commenting on what I eat and drink, like they know something I don’t, and like it’s OK to have a public opinion about something as intimate as what I put in my mouth. Especially when they’re so deeply wrong.

I’m talking about you, Starbucks. It’s really swell that you stopped everything for an hour or two (and delightfully eerie to walk by a locked-up gaggle of baristas revisiting the basics) to attempt to refresh your commitment to coffee mania, but can you please teach your team a few basic facts? And some manners?

Simple fact: There’s less caffeine in espresso than in regular drip coffee. A six-ounce cup of brewed coffee has about 100 to 115 milligrams of caffeine; a double espresso, about 50. OK, so I like a Quad (that’s four tight shots). And a Venti coffee (a trademarked term for a huge amount—20 to 24 ounces depending on the drink) is 400 to 450 milligrams of buzz. So whose eyebrows should be raised?

More complex fact: Espresso has less caffeine for two separate but relevant reasons. First, it’s most usually made from better beans—they’re called Arabica and just naturally have less caffeine while having more, deep flavor. Second, the push-through of water means less time on the bean, so again the less caffeine you get into your cup. (The cheaper brews use a bean called Robusta, which is, uh, pushy but somehow less refined.)

Big fat fact: A whole lotta stuff Starbucks and other nuevo barista bars sell is huge-calorie/empty-calorie confectionary. I mean, 600 calories for an Iced Peppermint White Chocolate Mocha Venti crap-o-chino?! And they cross their eyes at my quad?

And you really don’t need to know my name. I’ve not yet had my coffee this morning, so your corporate attempt at commercial bonding with me is really rather invasive. If I’d wanted to have coffee with you instead of from you, I’d have invited you over. Just sell me the damn quad.

Clark Wolf

Clark Wolf is the president of the Clark Wolf Company, specializing in food, restaurant and hospitality consulting.

River Brews

Clark actually does like the coffee at these places:

Coffee Bazaar14045 Armstrong Redwoods Road, Guerneville. 707.869.9706.

Gold Coast Coffee 25101 Steelhead Blvd., Duncan’s Mills. 707.865.1441.

Kaya Organic Espresso, 16626 Hwy. 116, Guerneville. 707.869.2230.

Mama Java 19420 Hwy. 116, Monte Rio. 707.865.0800.

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