Saturday, July 17, 2004

Warning: Barnie's is Addictive!

When we first moved to Celebration, my husband was a little distressed. He is a major Starbucks addict, and when we got married, he initiated me into the Clan of the Froo Froo Coffee. Personally, I like flavored coffees best, but I learned to enjoy various Starbucks drinks laden with carmel, whipped cream, and other thigh-enhancing substances.
Imagine hubby's distress when he realized that, unlike our old home, Orlando/Kissimmee does not have a Starbucks on every other corner. He was so terrified of going through withdrawal that he purchased an official Starbucks coffee maker with stainless steel carafe for our new home so he could stock up on beans and brew his own.
Little did we know that a new addiction was lurking just around the corner. For years, I've suspected that Starbucks owes its popularity to secretly lacing its drinks with addictive drugs. I've never been able to prove it, but the withdrawal symptoms that occur if I go too long without a caramel machiotto speak for themselves. But now we have found a coffee purveryor that takes addictiveness to a new level: Barnie's.
The Barnie's shop in downtown Celebration looks innocent and unobstrusive. When you enter, you are dazzled by the number of available flavors with names that make your mouth water, like Chocolate Cluster or Island Coconut. But long ago I learned not to let fancy names tempt me. We used to have coffee stores called Gloria Jean's in all the local malls back in the midwest, and they had flavors with enticing names too. But when you bought them and brewed them up, you would have sworn they were plain old flavorless beans.
I quickly learned that the iced coffees had plenty of taste. Two or three flavors are featured each day, which usually includes one of my favorites: German Chocolate Cake or Santa's White Christmas (seasonal name but year 'round availability). Every now and then, they throw in Sweethearts Blend, too. And these coffees are not teasers. They taste every bit as good as they sound. My favorite of the three I just mentioned is Sweethearts Blend, which would make you swear that you're drinking liquified chocolate covered cherries.
My husband drinks is coffee hot, no matter what the outside temperature. He must be part reptile, as he thrives on the heat. He could be standing outside on a hundred-plus degree day with a mug of hot joe in his hand and he wouldn't even break a sweat. I, on the other hand, would be gasping for breath in the humidity and melting into a puddle of boiling protoplasm on the hot sidewalk. Of course, this meant that he had to explore the flavored beans for home brewing in his Starbucks pot.
We soon learned that the beans are just as good as the iced coffees. The all-time best has to be the chocolate mint, which tastes exactly like you are drinking Thin Mint Girl Scout cookies. I am not a "mint person," but I can consume a pot of that stuff. We loved it so much that we bought samples for our midwestern friends.
I know several people who used to rave about Fannie May Thin Mint coffee, which doesn't exist anymore, since Fannie May was a local candy company that was bought out by a big conglomerate. I promised them that the Barnie's version of chocolate mint java would make them forget all about Thin Mints, and they thought I was exaggerating. But now I have created half a dozen addicts who clamor for more beans whenever I'm in town. They have even tried to convince me that I should open a Barnie's franchise, since the nearest one is hundreds of miles away, and one woman is trying to convince her employer's cafeteria staff to order Barnie's beans in place of what they use now.
I think this is all evidence that Barnie's could teach Starbucks a thing or two about creating addictions. It's one thing for my husband and I to become addicted. After all, we've both already demonstrated a propensity to be enslaved by yummy caffeinated beverages. But now others have become enmeshed across a multi-state area.
The addiction isn't really a bad thing. Sure, it's inconvenient to get an uncontrollable urge for an iced coffee whenever I'm near the downtown area. But it only takes a few minutes to get one unless there is some big event going on downtown. Then, you can stand for 20 minutes in the line of tourists crammed inside the Barnie's building, only to discover that you're actually in the line to use the bathroom.
And speaking of bathrooms, there is one unpleasant side effect to this addiction. When we head off for a day of theme parking or water parking, the caffeine in a large German Chocolate Cake, no whipped cream and easy on the ice, certainly gives me a burst of energy, but it gets me going in another way, too. I hate using grody public restrooms (and sadly, Disney's once pristine potties seem to be getting grodier by the month), but toking down the coffee guarantees that I'll have to make several pit stops.
Oh well, it's still worth it. Coming downstairs in the morning to the scent of whatever flavor my husband has decided to brew up is the perfect start to the day. And it's so enjoyable to head downtown, grab an iced coffee, and enjoy it while rocking by the lake. Barnie's has a nice outdoor courtyard, too, but unless you are a smoker or good at holding your breath for long periods of time to avoid the perpetual haze of smoke, you might not find it too enjoyable. I'd rather just take my drink and stroll across the street by the lakefront, where you can drag your chair away from the crowds.
If you don't live in Celebration and you happen to visit our fair town, look for Barnie's on the corner of Front and Bloom Streets. It looks like an innocent place, but beware. If you dare to buy that first cup of coffee, be prepared to stock up on beans to bring back home or you might find yourself going through flavored coffee withdrawal. Believe me, I know! And if you're not going to be visited any time soon, but you'd like to sample what I'm talking about, the Barnie's website is
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