Most people that I love and who love me back know that I adore a great coffee. I’m not talking a pint cup of monstrous woppa-mocca-frappa-coco-choccoccino whose one shot of coffee tastes like burnt wood chippings, costs you way too much and whose calorific value probably equates to a quarter of an adult woman’s recommended daily intake.
No my friends. What I mean is the fantasy coffee that you would be sipping whilst people-watching in Monaco, Milan or Miami. The ‘James Bond’ of coffees, the one that you would ideally be supping as Miss or Mister OMG is also drinking in the same establishment. I think I watch too many films but back to the point.
Coffee is a passion in most European countries except GB. The Viennese Coffee House is an art form, taken extremely seriously (Vienna is actually my favourite European city). In Italy, the daily espresso is a way of life much like the baguette in France. Coffee IS life.
Coffee drinking is not about high blood pressure or ‘this is bad for you’. It is about living, socialising, engaging, taking in what is around you. And reading newspapers. It is not about going to a coffee house because it has a WIFI connection. Technology moves you away from your connection with life. The more you connect your charger or laptop, the less you look up and smell the coffee (literally and allegorically).
Coffee is by all accounts actually good for you. Caffeine can be prescribed to migraine sufferers in Spain. Many skin products contain it to ‘tighten the skin’ and it hasn’t killed off the Italian race just yet. It is one of life’s pleasures. It is one of my life pleasures anyway. And whilst I am not a fan of booze, I don’t smoke (although I love a cigar) or do drugs, some people will try and make me feel bad about drinking coffee.
The problem is as follows. Firstly instant granules, that should only be used when making the Greek style of iced coffee (I have the recipe if anyone wants it). They are generally used with chemicals and would insult most coffee aficionados at first whiff. The first whiff is actually injected into the jars anyway.
Secondly, George Clooney and the Nespresso advertisements. OK, he sells machines for them. But then the company tries to be clever and creates 82 million blends of coffee that no one really understands. All we want is a decent cup of genuine blend. Either with caffeine or without.
And on that subject, coffee will only affect your ability to sleep if you are not used to drinking it. I would be more worried about the chemicals in the instant coffee than to a feast-of-the-senses type of coffee experience that can only be found in a few select parts of the world. I have probably had a handful of decent coffees in London in 44 years.
Thirdly, most people will have never tasted decent coffee. If they frequent the global chains that sometimes forget to pay their taxes, this will not train their taste buds to appreciate the real deal. Most restaurants and cafés also don’t clean their coffee machines enough. If the blend tastes bitter, it is either crap coffee or the machine needs cleaning.
Coffee, like tea and alcohol, also depends on the vessel used to drink it from. A mug from Tesco’s is not quite the same as a traditional Italian espresso cup. My late father, whom I blame for my extreme coffee fetish, would give me a Rombout’s one cup filter coffee in a traditional Rombout cup and saucer. And we would often venture out where he lived in Antwerp for the same. I loved this bond and ritual we had. Coffee was associated with pleasure not with being tired, hungover or rushing for a train.
I have tried every make of cafetière and they always break. So I have gone back to the traditional staple of a hob coffee maker. As preferred by the French and the Italians. Whilst this takes a bit longer to make, the end result it masterful. Precious and enjoyed. I am also a fan of soya milk to make the froth for a cappuccino. The end result is astounding, much richer and creamier and you would never know it is soya milk. Add your cinnamon on top and ‘way to go’…
You might think I am a lunatic talking about coffee is this way. But that is part of the Western mindset (particularly in the UK or the US). Food and drink is about ‘on the go’ and speed rather than ‘take your time’. Enjoy your food and drink. Then it will become part of your day rather than seeing coffee as a treat or something equally ridiculous. Without guilt or regret that is more likely to make you ill than the coffee itself.
Quality food and drink should be relished and savoured. Yes, I agree, don’t drink too much coffee as it could affect your heart etc. But this could be said for any sort of visceral pleasure: from meat eating to whisky or head-banging. The pleasure is in the experience. A bit like Café del Mar. Overlooking the sunset as Miss or Mister OMG sits down beside you…happy coffee trails my friends.