You could look at coffee as that quintessential hot drink that helps you wake up and keeps you going throughout the day. Yes, it’s that– but so much more. In different parts of the world, java is not only a drink but an integral part of the culture. And so are the cafés where the beloved cup of Joe (José, Giuseppe, Joop–take your pick) is served.
I will never forget our time volunteering on the farm in Ecuador. I learned quickly that farm work is incredibly difficult. We hauled coffee tree seedlings for planting all week…exhausting! Learning about the entire process– from picking coffee berries, extracting the beans, drying, shelling and roasting– gives a true appreciation of what it takes to have a great cup of coffee.
And my arms ache every time I think of shelling those 30-pound bags of beans by hand and using a hand-held blow dryer to get rid of the shell remnants. After all, coffee was an important part of the farm’s revenue and nothing could detract from the quality.
And I swore after that experience I would never take for granted another cup of coffee again (and that I was way too old–or at least not industrious enough–to be a farmhand).
Coffee in Colombia was interesting. Historically the highest quality beans are exported from there.
As a result, the locals are accustomed to drinking small cups of cafe tinto (only 200 C/pesos or US$0.07) which I found was not nearly strong enough.
It was a disappointment at the time since I expected to find the best coffee in Colombia, but that is changing.
Ah, yes….but let’s talk about the coffee in Vietnam for a minute. I still can picture that ecstatic look on your face every time you sat down with a cup of that strong coffee mixed with a hearty spoonful of sweetened condensed milk, the way they always serve it. Of course, we won’t talk about calorie count or sugar content.
I really appreciate how welcoming most coffee shops are about using it as a workspace. Don’t you love how we quickly find the highest-rated cafés in every city we visit? The best have great coffee, music at just the right volume and excellent internet.
Absolutely. And not only do we get a chance to practice our “please” and “thank yous” in multiple languages, but we get a little glimpse into what the culture is like.
My favorite pastime is checking out the bulletin boards to learn about local businesses, activities in town, and who is looking for what.
Share with us your favorite coffee story. There are so many great cafés all over the world!
by: Mike & Eileen Brill-Wagner