Science = free coffee

By Phil Plait | February 22, 2008 7:00 am

So I’m at Peet’s coffee a while back — Pirillo loves it, and talked me into it — and I want to buy some beans. They look good, oily and dark. I move over to the counter, and the barrista looks up at me and asks if she can help me.

As I’m about to open my mouth, I notice she’s wearing an unusual necklace. It’s a simple thing, wire with small beads on it. The shape is odd, though. The wire has been bent into a pattern, a hexagon with some radial bits coming out at the vertices.

It’s obviously a molecule. It looks familiar, but I can’t place it. Suddenly, though, I get a flash of insight.

Where am I standing?

I smile. I already know the answer… "Is that a caffeine molecule?" I ask.

Over the course of two seconds her expression changes from open and helpful to one of surprise and amazement.

"That’s right!" she exclaims. "You’re the first person to get it!"

Just like that, we bonded. Turns out she’s a biochem major, and working at Peet’s to make ends meet. We chatted for a while — we scientists tend to stick together — and she told me she made the necklace herself, which is cool.

Finally, though, I have to leave. As I turn to go, she tells me to wait. She reaches down and grabs something. Smiling broadly, she passes it to me.

It’s a coupon for a free cup of coffee, next time I come in.

Science, babies. It pays.


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