World “Coffee Talk”
Below you will find the very first blog post for my recently retired website Creative Paths to Freedom. This is the post that launched 1000 pages of blogging from 2011 to 2019. Yes, the topic was coffee. It was originally posted on November 3, 2011.
I am a world coffee-drinker.
I don’t feel comfortable saying that I’m an expert on coffee, but I definitely have developed my own personal preferences for my favorite coffees. Preferences are like opinions, everybody has one. This is just my effort at world “coffee talk”. I am sure that every lover of coffee has an opinion on the topic.
So how do my world-coffee preferences tie into the idea of creative paths to freedom?
Well, they don’t. Strictly speaking, this is a random topic. However, my creative path to freedom revolves around travel and more travel and as much travel as possible while I sample coffees all over the world. I enjoy the ritual of coffee drinking no matter where I am.
I want to share my discoveries in regards to my travels and the coffee I drank along the way.
Not so much brands of coffee, or the grinding of coffee, or the growing of coffee, but rather the aesthetics of coffee. Coffee and the drinking of coffee is dramatically influenced by the atmosphere in which I find myself enjoying that cup of coffee. I have a strong attachment to that first cup of coffee in the morning. Beyond that first cup, I rarely feel the need to have another cup of coffee throughout the day. That first cup, ahhh, yes, that first wonderful cup of coffee in the morning can be pure unadulterated bliss.
There are two countries that have tied for the best-all-around experience when it comes to drinking coffee. I happen to think that they win for taste as well, but taste is so personal and almost impossible to explain to another person. However, the ambiance of coffee drinking, I think, can be written or talked about in such a way as to paint a visual image in the reader’s or the listener’s mind.
Spain and Italy tied for first place on my short list of best coffee-drinking experiences.
During the time that I spent on the Amalfi coastline in Italy, I came to expect that morning coffee in an Italian outdoor restaurant would be a truly elegant experience. It didn’t seem to matter which restaurant or café that I chose, the coffee was consistently good and the service was absolutely exquisite. Do all of the Italian waiters attend the same finishing school?
Most of the waiters in Italy, at least the region that I was in, were men.
I have to admit, I really do like being waited on by a man. When that man is a handsome Italian, well, that doesn’t hurt either. It was their style and their attention to detail that so wowed me. I was in Italy during the Christmas season, so early in the morning, usually between 8:00 and 9:00, when I wandered out to get my first cup of coffee, there was a decided nip in the air. Yet, even then, I often would prefer to sit outside, sometimes under the warming lamps, and sometimes just close to the entrance.
I loved being in a position to be able to watch people coming and going as they started their day, the Italian Way.
There they stood, those perfectly polished waiters, many of them young and looking as though they could be models for a fashion magazine, something very continental. Taking their assignment very seriously, they would wait for us to choose from the menu. None of this dragging your feet as they walked away either. No, only perfect posture was exhibited with a snap to their walk as they set out to fulfill our morning desires. Coffee service all in white would arrive in good time. Such efficiency, such graciousness!
The espresso, invented by the Italians, is the essence of the flavor of Italian coffee.
Hand pulled, a perfect shot would be delivered in a white cup along with warm milk in a tiny pitcher for two, an extra little pitcher of hot water for those who wanted to dilute the espresso for coffee americano, and usually a little tray of Italian cookies. Sitting in the fresh morning air while people-watching turned the sipping of coffee into pure flavor plus a shot of entertainment. What a splendid way to start the day!
Spanish coffee, in my experience, is presented in a different way.
I have to point out that my drinking of coffee in Spain has largely taken place in rural villages in the mountains of Andalucia.
With the exception of a big city like Malaga or Granada, most of my time has been passed in these ancient whitewashed villages. Less worldly and, perhaps, a tad more countrified, the morning coffee tradition often centered around outdoor seating in one of the plazas or inside a smaller restaurant or bar.
The espresso, although made with the help of an espresso machine, was still the basis of all coffees served.
Often the owner of the establishment actually prepared the coffee himself. If not the owner then quite likely a family member. Many Spanish operate a family business. Once again, my preference for outdoor seating was the norm. I have never been in Spain during the winter months, so being seated outside, even very early in the morning, was never a problem. In fact, it was the preferred time of day during the summer to find yourself outside. The afternoons were often too hot and forced everyone to stay indoors and take the siesta. Nonetheless, being a “coffee with milk and sugar” sort of person, my order was delivered as such. My husband drinks his espresso black.
Because we have spent so much time in Spain, we know a lot of local people.
This fact could easily turn our quiet morning coffee time into a social event, but we welcomed a chat over our cups with maybe a Spanish sandwich if we were feeling a bit peckish. These are a crusty bread that has been split down the middle, drizzled with local Spanish olive oil and then adding thin slices of tomatoes and ham, lovingly layered.
I have sampled coffee in many different countries, cities, and villages.
These two are my coffee picks so far. I will be in Portugal in a few months. Maybe the Portuguese have a coffee secret or two up their sleeves. We shall see! In the meantime, I think it is time for a cup of home brew, which isn’t half bad either.
I must add that since I wrote this article in 2011, I’ve been to Portugal twice and can happily add Portuguese coffee to the list of best coffee-drinking experiences. Plus you have the benefit of the little coffee kiosks located throughout a city, making it even easier to enjoy one’s coffee outdoors.
Originally published at https://teresawriter.wixsite.com on February 8, 2021.