I remembered this occasion yesterday when my venerable father and I had coffee at Le Pain Quotidien (in some ways the opposite end of the coffee spectrum from a
Waiter: But the regular coffee is made with the espresso beans.
Chocolate Lady: How about the caffè latte?
Waiter: That’s also made with the espresso beans.
Chocolate Lady: What’s made with the house blend?
Chocolate Lady: Nothing?
Chocolate Lady: So the house blend . . .
Waiter: . . . is really not aptly named.
What is most interesting to me the flexibility in where markedness might lie with respect to coffee. Regular coffee can be coffee that is not decaffeinated, or coffee that is not espresso, or coffee that is not missing the milk and sugar. This is how you can know what kind of coffee a particular group finds normal. Recall that in Unmarked: the Politics of Performance (London and New York: Routledge, 1993), Peggy Phelan writes (but not about coffee) that while the norm is unremarkable, the other is marked (5).
So I guess if you sell coffee, you have to offer some non-espresso coffee, even if you don’t prepare it, and I guess you have to call it something. Lindy recalls a figure from American letters who calls this kind of coffee “regulare.” In the Chocolate family we call it caffè locale, you know, because it is not espresso.