Sunday, December 1, 2013

Let's talk about CHiPPi, baby.

Today was an eventful day. December first, rainy Sunday, family day. We decided on New Bedford, The Whaling City, as our destination and walked the endless aisles of bathtubs, radiators, old doors, windows, sinks, mantelpieces, and random old junk that is New England Demolition and Salvage. When you own an old house like we do a place like NEDS is heaven on earth. There are signs posted everywhere that say No Pictures, but I (like I imagine everyone else) sneaked a few.

NEDS was fun and interesting, but the real highlight of our day came when we discovered something called the CHiPPi. Shrouded in mystery and instantly cringe-inducing with it's senseless mixing of upper and lowercase letters, the CHiPPi was not something I could ignore. I have a long history of loving to hate things and i had a strong feeling that this was going to be my new thing to love to hate. So let's backtrack a bit. We stumbled on the home of the CHiPPi (Mirasol's Café) while driving by, hungry and looking for a place to get a quick bite. As we waited for our food I was shocked by the volume of people coming in and all ordering the same thing. As a coffee shop owner, it wasn't the number of people coming and going, but the fact that 9 out of 10 of them all ordered the same thing! Something that wasn't even prepared individually, something poured out of a gallon jug! The people ordering were of all ages, all genders, all walks of life. Some even ordered it by the GALLON ($35!)! When our waitress brought our food, I excitedly (truthfully on the verge of a low blood sugar hysteria) exclaimed, "WHAT THE FUCK IS A CHiPPi?!?!?!" Somehow I managed to hold back the F bomb, but it was implied. She replied that it was their signature iced coffee drink and while she didn't know exactly what was in it she assured us it has "tons of caffeine." We spent our lunch in a giddy state of laughter over this mystery drink that looked like it was made with 90% heavy cream. It makes a Dunkies "extra extra" look like a black iced coffee. We decided that, as fellow coffee shop owners and caffeine connoisseurs, it was our duty to try one of these milky, caffeine and sugar bombs. I ordered a small ($3.50) and ran out to the car so we could taste test in private. We each took a tentative sip....


Like literally. I cannot stress this enough. It's coffee milk.

Determined to get to the bottom of this I started googling immediately. When I placed the order the woman at the counter helping me was very stand-offish and guarded when I tried to ask her exactly what was in it. I later realized that she totally stuck to the script. "Is it essentially an iced latte? Is there espresso in it?" "No, it's not at all like an iced latte." Her quick answer included the phrases "secret ingredient" and "signature iced coffee drink" and "tastes like melted coffee ice cream." just the same as the interview with the owner that I would later find when I started googling in the car. He even goes on to say it's a "complicated two day process" and even revealed the origin of the name.

"Before he opened Mirasol's Café on April 1, 2005, Richard knew he had something special when he found he could use CHiPPi as a way of rewarding and punishing his employees at The Newport Regatta Club during his time working as the banquet manager there.
"If you were late to work, no CHiPPi," recalled Richard. "You didn't finish your work? No CHiPPi." Richard remembers how his CHiPPi-loving employees knew they needed to get the job done, lest they be banned from drinking CHiPPi for the entire weekend.
The coffee concoction wasn't originally born with the name CHiPPi. That came later, when on one fateful night, Richard overheard a few of the dishwashers at the Regatta Club drinking Richard's special iced coffee and speaking to each other in a Mayan dialect from Guatemala.
"I kept hearing them say the word 'chippi' so I went over to them and said to them, 'I keep hearing you say chippi... what is chippi?'"
The dishwasher told him, "When I drink this I can go home and make chippi to my wife.""


He also reveals that they go through over SEVENTY GALLONS A DAY. SEVENTY GALLONS!

In the end I guess you have to hand it to someone who figures out a quick way to make a fortune like this. I mean he's not hurting anyone. Still, I would love to go down there and do a blind taste test with some straight up coffee milk. I bet none of those suckers could tell the difference. I also managed to resist my intense urge to rush back in there and yell, à la Charlton Heston, "CHiPPi IS COFFEE MILK! IT'S COFFEE MILK!!!!"