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  • Good Till the Last Drop – My Relationship with Coffee

    Posted on May 7th, 2009 Michele Sun No comments

    Last weekend I was staying at a friend’s place who doesn’t drink coffee, so the first day  was getting  really  edgy without my morning coffee. I had to drive to a nearby Starbucks in my wrinkled T shirt and crazy hair to get my healthy dosage of caffeine, aah!! The aroma of coffee ignites my day and brings me back to life!

    I first contact with coffee came when I was 9 or so; people would give gift baskets to my father during the three major Chinese holidays – Chinese New Year, Dragon Boat Festival and Moon Festival, and instant coffee powder were usually in the deluxe (a.k.a. expensive) gift baskets. But we never made coffee or ate any of the canned food in the baskets; mom would sell them to the bakery downstairs at consignment basis to make some pocket money. American food was considered luxury and not something we would consume.

    Later I had my first taste of ice coffee when my sister and I accompanied our aunt to her date; we would tag along when they went to movies, and her date would treat us to “western set meal” at “western restaurant” after movies. Set meals usually included salad, creamed corn soup, pork chop or spaghetti, and ice coffee or ice black tea after meal. The tables would be table-clothed and with nice linens and silverware, soft music at the background and waiters in white shirt with bow tie. My sister and I felt so grown up and Hollywood like.

    When my parents started drinking coffee at home, Nescafe Instant Coffee first came into the picture then followed byTasters Choice, both we had to buy from supermarkets at upscale department stores.  Later we moved on to drip coffee with automatic brewing machine with ground coffee. Then I came to the States to study and discovered Espresso which was love at first sight (or sip). I bought the first Espresso Machine and Coffee Grinder for my mom the following summer.

    Couple years later, I found myself sitting at home and watching my mom preparing coffee with Vacuum Coffee Brewer. I was so impressed to watch mom pouring water into the globe and place it over the burner. As the water heats, vapor pressure forces the water up the funnel tube into the upper globe and that was like watching David Copperfield. Certainly a big leap from Nescafe, isn’t it?

    coffee_snob_cold_drip4My sister claimed the true coffee lover drinks “cold drip coffee”, and it’s not cold drip coffee – it’s cold drip coffee. She filled the ice jar with ice cubes and added water to start the melting process. Then she would adjust the water drip valve so slowly one drop of ice-cold water falls every second. The coffee brewed (or say produced) by the cold drip method is free of harsh acids and has a smoother taste.

    Drinking coffee is a daily ritual for our family; we usually gather together around 3:00 in the afternoon, and drink whatever typed of brewing coffee we feel like that day. Mom will prepare pastry to go with it, and we will just sit and chat. We seem to have no problem with our sleep even if we drink our after meal coffee. Dad will add small tea spoon of Cognac or Remy Martin into our coffee, which is before I discovered drink like Irish Cream…etc.

    I remember my first “real date” with someone 6 year older than me; he took me to a coffee house that I first saw coffee beans labeled like Chinese herb medicine, except the names were much more exotic — Blue Mountain, Java, Colombian, Sumatra…etc. There were times that I really like flavored coffee, iced coffee drink, but as I grow older I  started to like simple, basic, black, hot coffee; I think you know what I mean.

    At home, coffee was drank in coffee cup placed on saucer, with beautiful gold tipped tiny spoon, until my img_1070first boy friend really opened my eyes when he drank his coffee in a huge coffee mug that he prepared with a very simple white French drip coffee pot. And he drank his coffee black, no cream, no sugar and no cakes!

    As I grow older and start to travel through places, I have the opportunities to taste coffee prepared with different brewing methods. For instance the very popular Vietnamese coffee in most Pho restaurants; the coffee is stronger and very sweet with the condensed milk. You can drink it hot or pour it over ice to take it iced coffee.

    After accustom to the huge mug of coffee, I found standing and drinking espresso from a tiny cup in Europe very “unfulfilling”. But the coffee was good indeed, and you get used to the crowded and small space; when coffee is that good you don’t need to gulp up. I learned to rest my left elbow on the round table and just watched the dark Italian walking by with jacket throwing over his shoulder – what a moment!

    The fanciest coffee brewing I have ever tried is Belgium coffee, watching how the coffee gets prepared is almost a work of art. The method is similar to vacuum brewing that I have mentioned earlier, but the water is poured into a kettle not glass globe and the boiling water is pushed through a metal pipe to meet the grinded coffee which is placed next to the kettle. The beautiful gold-plated coffee set gives you a luxury and almost opulent feeling, quite royal experience I would say.

    Another exotic coffee encounter is the Turkish coffee that I tried at the Thea in Santana Row; Turkish coffee is prepared in copper Ibriks (or Cezve as Arabs call it) and served black, or very sweet if you prefer. To make proper Turkish coffee, very finely grinded Turkish coffee is required and hand grinding Turkish coffee is considered superior to any commercial coffee grinding. Turkish coffee was invented as a drink during the 16th century in the Middle East and is considered very romantic because of the making is so complicated. It’s the type of coffee that you enjoy quietly and slowly.

    Coffee is something I enjoy and is part of my lifestyle. For me, the best way to start a day is to wake up early, brew my coffee, and enjoy the hot coffee in my kitchen looking out the bay window and thinking “What a beautiful day!”

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