It’s time to talk about my alma mater: American University.
Yesterday, I was feeling a little nostalgic and in need of something sweet and, as always, preferably caffeinated, so a few of my girlfriends and I decided to meet at the old campus hot spot, Davenport Coffee Lounge. For all those who go, have gone, or will go to American University this campus coffee shop is known as the “Dav”. The Dav is a student run, not for profit, fair trade coffee lounge that has a few of its own special brews. This post focuses on one very special, very sweet drink that is known as a Vietnamese iced coffee.
But before I go there, let me lay out the scene.
A little bit over a year ago this classic college coffee shop changed locations on campus. A new building for the School of International Services (SIS) was built and the old SIS, which was home to the original Dav, became faculty offices. Students were outraged. And many of them still are, alumni included. And this is why, (que visuals).
THE OLD DAV: Scholarly, quaint, inspired, uniquely AU.
THE NEW DAV: Is that a Starbucks on campus?
When the coffee lounge switched locations its worn in charm was left behind. There were are no more old books and broken chess sets on cracked marble tables. Instead, there are new tables and shinny floors and cabinets and bookshelves devoid of any books. It looks just like a corporate coffee shop, except worse because you knew what it used to be. A few of the old maps and yearbooks stuck around, but it is no longer that inspirational place you go to at 11:00 AM on Saturday mornings after a night out in Adams Morgan to sip a coffee and immerse yourself in whatever political propaganda you may be studying that day, letting inspiration take over.
But let me give the students of AU a little bit of credit here. We are no state school, we are not into our sports team, but we love the scholarly, artsy, and excepting AU culture. Every time I go back to the new Dav I find that it is slowly taking on it's old character, bit by bit.
Onto the coffee. In order for me to tell you about the Dav's Vietnamese iced coffee it is quintessential that I start with the first time I ordered it. I was standing in line at the old Dav my freshman year of college, about to get my usual regular iced coffee and sit down for a day of reading Plato and Nietzsche, when the person in front of me ordered a Vietnamese iced coffee. Excited to try something different, sure to be a new twist on an old drink, nothing too crazy, I ordered one too. I took my books and coffee, sat down at my usual spot (marble table on the right, chair on the right) opened my books and laptop and took a sip. It was so sweet! But deliciously sweet! Like a milkshake, but better! It wasn't a sugary sweet, more of a creamy sweet. As hard as I tried to make it last and savor the flavor, I finished the whole thing in about two minutes, which would have been fine if it hadn't contained three shots of very strong espresso.
3 shots of espresso topped with condensed milk. Simple. Sweet. Highly caloric. So if you want to maintain those figures ladies, do not indulge in these every day. I made it a once a semester type of thing.
You can already foresee what happened next. As I was typing my paper on my laptop my hands started flailing OUT OF CONTROL. I was definitely not used to that much caffeine, never mind that fast! And combined with the sugary condensed milk, deadly. (But delicious!)
VIETNAMESE ICED COFFEE.
It disguises itself. Looks like a regular iced coffee, heavy on the cream, but tastes entirely different. The best way to describe its flavor is as if coffee ice cream melted into a cup of ice, but not quite as thick.
I could make this post last forever and go on and on about all the stories that have happened in the Dav, but I'll save those for me. And if you want to know all the funny, embarrassing, and inspirational stories, call me up for a cup of coffee anytime, I always love a good chat. Just don't let me order a Vietnamese, or I will be talking to you at the speed of light.
NOTE: Below is a painting of the Dav I started early on in college and never finished. Figure there is no better place for it to make its unfinished debut.