You might think that coffee is a staple that you can take for granted wherever you roam these days—but like diverse cultures, various tastes go with the territory.
Espresso is the way to go. It’s condensed, thus not drunk by the big-cupful–that would be Americano. It’s savored after brewing 4 minutes or so in a Moka pot (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moka_pot) which I promptly bought for home-use. It takes longer to brew—but it’s worth it.
Northern Italy’s diet consists mainly of meat and meat products whereas Southern Italy is more Mediterranean. As a pescatarian (vegetarian + fish), I often felt hungry so a good cup of strong coffee was my “go to” treat, when I wasn’t having crusty bread with olive oil and red wine, that is–or better yet, I would have it afterwards.
In Firenze (Florence), cars would be double parked in front of the bake shop (pannetteria) each morning, while the drivers would stand at the counter drinking their precious brew, taking a few minutes to savor the flavor–then, off they would go. Sometimes they even parked on the wrong side of the street to accommodate their morning ritual. (In Italy, the road-rules are idiosyncratic for the locals, it seems. They take liberties–all over the place. But tourists, renting-cars, beware: they have cameras that see your every wrong move and you may be fined up to 6 months after your trip! Surprise–it comes through the mail. Driving in Italy is not for the feint of heart–kudos to my friend, Rebekah, who was fearless and brave! )
Is it redundant to say Paris and Latte` in the same sentence? It’s as fabulous to sit and sip, as you think it would be—strong and hearty—enough to last a couple of hours while you are people-watching and fashion-gazing. It begs for a Parisian pastry but “no-no”, I’m not going to fall into that trap; I prefer to save my calories for French bread with dinner. Les petite jeunes filles keep one mindful of shapes and sizes, let me tell you.
I was surprised to find that tea is more popular than coffee with the local population. What about the iconic Turkish coffee? I don’t know;–it is on the menu but most of it was instant Nescafe` and that seemed so antithetical somehow, although it tasted better than I thought it would. It was actually pretty good.
In cafes, teapots dotted each table as patrons sipped the afternoon away—but the “tea” was usually not tea at all, but instead, warmed apple juice. (If it’s cold, it’s called, “apple juice”; if it’s warm, it is tea.)
Shops make a habit of offering customers “tea” while they shop. It’s both a wonderful way to break the cultural ice and it softens up the customer to engage in the art of negotiation and haggling over prices. Never pay the initial price—it spoils the fun. (I sound better than I am at it–I fear that I’m a pushover-tourist.)
Yum! Maybe I was set-up by the Juan Valdez commercials as a child, but I certainly found Colombian coffee to live up to my standards. There are many varieties, however, and I’ve learned that ordering “Colombian coffee” here in the states does not ensure that I’ll get what I had there.
(Maybe I could do coffee taste-tests as a side-line to my career!)
Yes, Kona coffee, straight from the plantations lives up to its reputation, if not its exorbitant price. So, I often buy a blend of Kona + arabica while visiting Paradise.
On the Big Island, between Kilauea Volcano and Kona, we saw a “hot coffee” sign alongside the road. Just the thing! A woman after my own heart tended the stand.
Along with local coffee she also had iced tea, made from a local tree leaf, Mamaki (http://tinyurl.com/hb5v8v8). I bought a bag and love the mild but wholesome taste. I add it to my black and green, iced tea mixture–equal quantities– plus a little fresh-grown mint to join them together.
The woman was from Dayton, Ohio—just 40 miles from my house! Upon visiting her daughter, she never came back. She must not miss Ohio-gray skies, changeable weather and occasional tornadoes—go figure.
More later–I feel the pull of my mid-afternoon cuppa’… !
(FYI: this post may be edited as I add more coffee experiences to the list!)