Temperance Blue of Blue to Blue was a blue woman. Not literally blue, no, just grim. Her cropped bob was rigid, holding still even in the most torrential storm. A stark contrast to her skeletal frame, which held similar strength against winds that, say, an umbrella might–one donning a floor-length evening gown.
Our Gothic temptress had eyes that reveled in voyeurism. Her fixated gaze could devour a full room, giving her an edge in people-watching. And in business. The business she adored, the business her patrons held above all else, the business Blue to Blue lived for. The business of coffee.
As a prominent lover of Fall, Miss Temperance Blue had a tradition. For each day of October, she composed a beverage. And for each day of November, she retired one. No one could match the skill of our temptress, but she often sought one who could. Baristas were plenty but relied on their image. Baristos were less but largely the same.
Style over substance, a trend that wrought our Temperance with dismay.
But she persevered.
Each Fall she’d invite them to woo with cinnamon stars and nutmeg. And each Fall they’d prove caramel wasn’t their specialty, nor hazelnut, nor pumpkin. But from her high station, she continued to observe, hoping one Fall would be better–no, forego expectations–less absurd. How could they forge a faultless latte with such frivolous disregard? How could they disfigure such elegant displays with hearts and leaves? How could they mar such sumptuous flavors with mountains of whipped cream and sprinkles?
Nothing was more ghastly than their creations.
They reassembled her Witch’s Brew, tearing from it the very essence. Gone was the black licorice, the anise, the honey–replaced with peppermints and vanillas. How dreadful. How disrespectful. How crass! A witch would never be caught dead with a peppermint mocha in hand. She’d shatter her broom in protest. She’d raise snow-white kittens. She’d banish eye of newt from her recipes–toads, bats!
Miss Temperance Blue hadn’t always been blue.
With coffee as her mistress, she was enchanted. Each day, elated. From the scent of her meticulously hand ground coffee beans to the sound of the perfectly brewed coffee meeting its glassware, our temptress was satiated.
And from her adroit hands, brews of legend were born.
So, Miss Temperance Blue had every right to be blue. Her mistress left her for incompetents: coffee abhorrers who consistently failed to satisfy her, while she demanded our temptress to enlighten them. A task that proved to be impossible.
But again she welcomed more. With apprehension, she awaited the baristas, the baristos, the supposed coffee enthusiasts. Blue to Blue required them more than ever.
As the Summer months waned, Temperance could hardly breathe. Just one, that’s all she would need. And they came, though they were few. The others were warned away by prior participants, told of hauntings, informed of several spectacular incidents caused by the beloved owner’s poor temperament.
Those words wouldn’t affect our dear Temperance though. No, she had a fine temperament.
Blue was a brilliant color, one to behold.
The few that came were young. They would be easy to mold, as long as she was allowed to. But they were also clumsy. Prissy was a student though her area of expertise was clearly unrelated to grace. Loren was formerly a barista, one who had claimed her talents far exceeded any that came before her. Temperance had always known it was a gamble believing those words. And Archy was an unemployed accountant. That’s it. Nothing more.
And so it began.
The three participants were responsible for the creation of Temperance’s long-beloved tradition. Each day, the three would introduce their drinks to the public. And each day, the most highly acclaimed drink would be held above the other two. While it was designed to have a winner, there had never been one. Temperance had never allowed there to be.
No one deserved it.
Prissy was simple. Her spices of choice were cinnamon and nutmeg. Her main ingredients were pumpkin and chocolate. She wouldn’t vary and wouldn’t accept suggestions. Loren was the same, though she had a secret spice she adored, one she used in everything regardless of the flavor balance: allspice.
And so the disasters begin.
Oh, Archy? He was hardly worth observing. Blue to Blue could implode on him and he would barely blink. Basic thoughts were difficult for him. He struggled to measure, burned himself more than once, and ended with tears on his lashes. Our Temperance could never be impressed by such ineptitude.
Our patrons were served.
Prissy was inspired by maple leaves–every cup was adorned with one, sometimes two. Loren couldn’t resist the boorish temptation of whipped cream. And Archy tended to pour more coffee on the counter than in its glassware. It was a Fall resembling all Falls before it, with an added non-performer.
But Blue to Blue had to succeed this time.
Temperance knew there was room for improvement, one of them was teachable. They had to be. But as she strained to comment, she lost sight of the shop and had to refrain. She continued judging from her perch, hoping time would be enough. Perhaps one week, two, a month?
The last day of their contest came and with it, snow. Tastes shifted, the patrons made that clear. They were wearing winter cravings under their tightly woven scarves, their minds dancing with candy canes over candy corns. And our dear Temperance couldn’t be more distraught. Halloween is no place for holiday drinks! Where were her witches? What of her vampires and monsters? Her brews were legendary, adored by all Gothic folk.
Of that, only one of our participants was aware.
As Prissy sprinkled peppermint on an already thrice sugared mocha, toppling over with whipped cream, Temperance almost lost it. She held her tongue, though her disapproval was painted on her face. With a count of ten breaths, she peeked at Loren. Butter?! Temperance hadn’t seen such a disgrace in all her life as butter in coffee. Despicable! But Loren stirred away, adding cinnamon and maple syrup to her now corrupted espresso. But even worse, the patrons sang a chorus of satisfaction. Had they no qualms? What a ruinous Halloween!
But then there was Archy. In the spirit of our beloved owner, he’d printed the recipe for her Witch’s Brew. With careful measurements, he produced her brew true to form. No whipped cream, no sprinkles, no horrific designs. He placed that licorice coffee on the counter with pride–not one patron drank it. How the witches would turn on their brooms! How they would bite chunks from their cauldrons! How they would-they would–Temperance was sobered.
And as she watched in repugnance at Archy assuming last, she came to realize a bitter truth: times had changed. Gone was the call for unique creations, gone were the days of Halloween flavors, and gone was her prime. Her paint was peeling, her frame was bent, and her mistress had long since left her. Our temptress was now nothing more than a crotchety old voyeur hanging in disrepair.
As she rested up on the wall, high above the patrons who once adored her, Temperance Blue descended from Blue to Black.