Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Coffee ... Ambrosia Of The Gods

Yesterday at work we were having a conversation about food -- as ususal -- and someone asked us if there was one food or drink we could not give up, what would it be? Someone said chocolate, someone else said ice cream, one person said broccoli (yes), and after some thought, I said, "Coffee". There is no food more wonderful or more satisfying than a really good cup of coffee. And by the same token, there is nothing less satisfying or nausea-inducing than a bad cup of coffee. There is a particular chain of coffee shops that shall remain nameless, but in my opinion serves the worst coffee known to mankind. This particular chain uses cheap South American robusta coffee beans that are over-roasted in order to mask the cheapness and lower quality of the beans. And what is even worse, they have managed to create a generation of coffee drinkers who think that over-priced, over-roasted, burnt, oily coffee is good. Everyone seems to drink it, but I wonder if those folks really know how really good coffee should taste. And if they did, would they go back to that horrible rotgut over-priced coffee.

The best coffee I have ever had was in France. Most European coffees are actually not roasted very much at all. The wonderful coffee flavor comes from properly brewing the coffee, which for some reason we in North American have not learned how to do well. When my daughter and I stayed at the l'Hôtel de Banville in Paris, a free continental breakfast was offered, included in the price of the room. We had wonderful croissants and rolls, with sweet butter and jam. The coffee was served in silver coffee carafes, with silver cream and sugar bowls. Both the coffee and the cream were steaming hot. I will never forget my first taste of that coffee. It was ambrosia of the gods. After drinking that coffee, I could never -- ever -- drink the burnt, oily coffee served at that chain that shall remain nameless.

The second best coffee I have ever had was in what was formerly called “Little Italy” here in Vancouver, but is now known as “the Drive” (Commercial Drive). They have some of the best barristas in the city on the Drive, and it was there that I learned how to make real Italian espresso. I use a stovetop espresso maker and it's very easy. Here is a website where you can learn how to do it. If I want cappuccino, I have a Bodum container that I can use to create foamy milk. Et voila! Espresso and cappuccino -- no fuss, no muss, and no burnt flavor.

There are wonderful coffees all over the world, Arabian, Turkish, Italian, French, Cuban, Austrian, Dutch, Costa Rican, Indian, Kenyan -- the list goes on. Each has its own flavor. I could never give up coffee. Just don't make me drink that awful stuff from Barstucks that place that shall remain nameless.

30 comments:

LilliGirl said...

Amen! Preach on Sistah! I feel it! I know it! I live it!

Hilary said...

Not a $tarbucks fan here. I'm curious about what coffee you buy for home.. or does it vary? You sure have me craving a GOOD cup of coffee now!

Jo said...

LilliGirl, *heh* Yes!

Hilary, at home I use Melitta Deluxe European roast for my regular coffee, and Lavazza espresso Italiano for my espresso.

Andrea said...

I agree with you! I've always said that coffee is my only addiction - and I will never give it up.

As for that "chain" coffee - it is disgustingly too strong. I'm amazed at the people who think they have to stand in line and pay a hefty price for a "good" cup of coffee!

Jo said...

Andrea, I know! They are being over-charged for inferior (!!!) coffee, and don't even know it.

DUTA said...

At home I drink regular coffee, but when I'm out I like to order a cappuccino with a mini tuna sandwich. The slightly salty tuna makes the cappuccino taste just heavenly, and vice-versa.

Kathy's Klothesline said...

Gotta have my coffee!

lovelyprism said...

I could never give up my coffee either! The best coffee I ever had was actually in France too! But it's a close call between France and Italy. I do go to that horrible place that shall remain nameless, but I have them put so much extra stuff on it the local barrista refers to it as "dessert in a cup".

the walking man said...

I didn't need the name of the chain in order to know EXACTLY which one you referred to...can you imagine how unexcited I was when last Christmas I opened a card from one of my once beloved children and there was a $25 dollar gift card from Starbucks in there...now that I burned through that coffee and the bitterest of tastes is nearly gone from my mouth...he is slowly working his way back into favor...I think he won't cross that coffee line again...his inheritance is at stake ;-}

reyjr said...

Haha. I actually like Starbucks coffee. :D But have my own "moka" at home, and an espresso machine to boot. lol!

I love croissants with my coffee too! :D

Charles Gramlich said...

I don't drink much coffee. when I do I take it black.

Canarybird said...

Once of the reasons espresso coffee tastes so good here in Spain and in other Hispanic countries is because the beans are subjected to the torrefacto process during roasting. That is...they are sprayed with sugar which then caramelizes on the beans while roasting, and are then mixed with normal roasted beans. When I buy coffee here, I look to see the percentage of torrefacto which is marked on the package. One of the local coffees is the 'cafe cortado leche leche' (cafe with two milks)where a glob of sweetened condensed milk is drizzled into the bottom of the small cup of espresso, then topped up with a small bit of foamed mik.
Sharon

KathyB. said...

I LOVE coffee and often go all day without food , but never without coffee. To use the oft seen cliche' nowadays, I am "powered by caffeine", but really, I too will not drink bad coffee. If the coffee is not good it is thrown out,( my daughter calls me a coffee snob) even if I paid a pretty penny for it. And when that perfect cup of coffee is consumed, ahhhhhhhhhhhh..it is enough! Nothing else need accompany it, but often the dessert NEEDS the coffee.

I have discovered in most good coffee brands I prefer the Italian....French is next...

Divyendu said...

I really liked the opening picture on your post...I m not a coffee fan (everybody is shocked when they hear it), but the rarest of times when I have a hot cuppa, it does feel good :-)

Book pusher said...

I to knew exactly which coffee chain you were refering to, funny thing is they don't seem to be as popular here as in North America, I think we generally lean towards European stlye coffee. I go out especially to favourite coffee shops to get that special cup of coffee. Loved the celestial design on what is a divine drink.

Carla said...

I'm happy to say that I have never tasted Starbucks coffee. I love coffee and I like it without sugar or cream.

Madame Ladybug (Ady) said...

I like coffee, but I am not a Starbucks fan and I do not drink it often because it is hard to find good coffee. (In my experience.) I LOVE TEA! Daily pleasure. It is always good and easy to find.

amourissima said...

Like Divyendu I'm not a coffee drinker either- I always thought it was the caffeine (though that doesn't explain why I can eat delicious dark chocolate till the cows come home...) that didn't agree with me but maybe *gasp!* it's the fact that all we seem to have in Calgary are "The Coffee Shop Chain That Shall Not Be Named".

Maybe it's time to try my footing again...

ivan said...

Ah, strike a blow for freedom.

Nothing like starting off the day on eight coffees and about two packs of cigarettes.
Whoosh! Roman candle.
Hang the doctors. I am seventy and haven't yet got those designer diseases.

Mean Mama said...

ivan, you are hilarious! I'm with you Jo, coffee powers me. I always answer to people when they ask me, "How do you do it all?", "Coffee!" Unfortunately I am one of the masses who has been hoodwinked I guess by the big chain. I get my own beans from a store though and prepare my own, but honestly when I get really good coffee I can taste the difference. The only problem is the price. The best coffee I have ever had was made for me by an ex-boyfriend who was Greek. He cooked it on the stove in a little pot. I think that is how I learned to really appreciate fine coffee, but again...out of my $.

Faithful said...

You make me want a good cup of coffee..I love a hot black cup on a crisp, cold morning sitting around the campfire, a vanila latte when I'm a bit hungry. But I really enjoyed the espressos while visiting Argentina..they drink them late into the night. I'll just about take coffee anyway it comes but I do appreciate a fine cup.

Faithful said...

You make me want a good cup of coffee..I love a hot black cup on a crisp, cold morning sitting around the campfire, a vanila latte when I'm a bit hungry. But I really enjoyed the espressos while visiting Argentina..they drink them late into the night. I'll just about take coffee anyway it comes but I do appreciate a fine cup.

Deb said...

I am not a fan of the celestial orbs + holy dollar, either! I find their coffee to harsh for my palette. If cost were no object, I would buy Jamaican blend hands down. I love the blue mountain blend they produce.
As for my best coffee ever served in a restaurant, it was in Belgium! Coffee cups served on a small silver tray with a piece of their premiere chocolate along side 2 tiny cups, one with pure cream and the other with a side of sugar cubes. Ah..that was delightful!

Lover of Life said...

I used to work for a Club Med back in the day and got hooked on really good coffee - served in bowls, no less. Finding good coffee is hard - I will try your suggestions to Hilary - thanks.

exurbanpedestrian said...

Hmmm. I’ve only ever had small sips of coffee equalling maybe a cup over my entire lifetime. Each time I’ve tried coffee it’s made me ill and nauseated. Perhaps I’ve been trying the wrong kind? I’ll give it another try next time I find somewhere that makes good coffee.

Leslie: said...

Oh yes, I recall the coffee served in France and in ITALY! That was the BEST and that morning cappuccino kept me going all day long.

jackc50 said...

ah coffee, a need and a joy.....love the stuff, drink dunkins on weekends. it's pretty good. can't wait for morning and another round....till then, jc

jeannette stgermain said...

As you might remember I am Dutch, so I WAS used to strong coffee. But here in the USA I do like the coffee that you scratched through the best, LOL. It's strong, but not bitter, like most strong coffees here.

Paula Slade said...

I love coffee too and I believe a great cup of coffee can make amends for a mediocre meal. When you didn't initially fess up to the chain of coffee shops I thought you were talking about Dunkin' Donuts and not Starbucks. The Starbucks we have Massachusetts are quite good. I particularly enjoy their dark roasts - French and Italian. Your right about France - best coffee ever - wonderfully strong!

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