Café Madrid: Two Austrian gentlemen compare coffees

“Today, it’s not really important”

It’s a “where were you” moment.

Me, I was hanging around the Café Madrid coffee cart (1029 Orange Avenue, Coronado), thinking of getting one of their buns to go with my $1.50 medium coffee (one of the best brews on the island, I reckon).

Two gentlemen from Austria are ahead of me, asking for double espressos ($2 each). They’ve come to the US because one of them, Hans-Peter, wants to go to a conference about, uh, automatic people movers, those magic carpet things you use at airports to speed up the walk.

Somehow the news filters in about the bombings in Boston. Now all we're thinking about, talking about, is the explosions at the marathon. The agony going on right now. Lost lives, lost limbs, lost families, lost faith in humanity. And, of course, theories. Patriot’s Day message? Tax Day message? Kim Il Sung’s 101st birthday message?

“My theory?” says Hans-Peter, “is that it is a mad person. It would have to be. I think of Timothy McVeigh. Such a nice-looking young man. But look what he did in Oklahoma City. Or David Koresh. We were visiting Texas in 1993 when the Waco siege happened. We drove through Waco while it was happening. Perhaps it is too easy to get explosive materials and guns in this country, but it is part of your culture. We certainly don’t think of the US as the ‘Wild West’ any more. It is the most friendly country we know.”

We stare into space, and take sips from our cawfees. I’m starting to worry about Carla’s brother. He was due to fly to Boston today. Plus a runner I met said he was going to participate this year, just for bragging rights about having run in the oldest annual marathon in the world.

I’m kinda thankful for the sweet hot liquid running down my gullet. Then, to break the silence, even though it seems kinda crass, I ask, “How does our coffee rate against your Vienna coffee?

There’s a polite, awkward silence.

“Well, you can drink it,” says Hans-Peter.

“Except for Starbucks," says his friend, Johann. "Not drinkable, I’m afraid. Not for me. It’s the roasting. Also we Viennese like our coffee stronger than you make it."

"But this is nice," says Hans-Peter, nodding at his paper cup of espresso.

I can see what he's saying: On a day like today, does it really matter?

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