Part I

WEDNESDAY, MAY 5, 2004

7:40 AM

Paul DiLorenzo and Roberto Tello stood in line at Coffey’s Coffee as they did nearly every workday morning. It wasn’t unusual to find the line of customers snaking around inside the shop and then stretching out the door, even on the blustery, frigid mornings that frequently passed for spring in New England.

There were no lattés, or double mocha cappuccinos to be found at Coffey’s. Seventy-two year old Gil Coffey didn’t believe in trendy. For forty-nine years he’d been serving hand-made-on-the-premises pastry and bagels and the very best caffeine fix in downtown Boston, and didn’t see any reason to change.

Rumor had it that representatives of some large chains periodically bought Coffey’s coffee, not to drink, but to analyze in an attempt to determine what made it so good. So far, they’d not succeeded.

In 1994, when Starbucks moved into the area, one of Gil’s employees took a marker to her name badge and became Barista Betty. Gil and the customers thought it a hoot. At the time, most folk in the area still thought barista was Italian for barkeeper. So Gil had new badges made for all the employees, a practice that now, years later, had become tradition.

“…but there was no way he was going to strike him out.”

Paul was only half paying attention to his friend as he silently debated the merits of ordering one of Gil’s amazing blueberry muffins versus a cinnamon-raisin bagel with cream cheese.

“He hasn’t struck him out in three years. So why in the hell would Francona leave him in there with the bases loaded?”

“Maybe he had a hunch.” He watched Barista Akina bring three cups to the counter for the girl in front of them.

“No maybes. The guy needs his head examined. There’s no way he should be managing a little league team much less the Red Sox.”

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