Coffee, Mate?

Coffee never lived up to its promise. I would smell the grounds when my mother opened the bag, and watch her prepare the brew. She would add water from the tap to the battered metal pot, then insert the rod and affix the basket to it. Carefully measure out the fragrant grounds, put on the lid with the glass bubble, and put the pot over a flame on the stove. Wait for the brown liquid to boil up into the glass, and lower the flame and boil for five, or was it ten minutes. The resulting pale brown watery brew bore no relation to those heavenly grounds, and was only marginally improved by lots of sugar and milk.

Newly married, I replaced the stovetop pot with an electric one, but the quality of the product remained the same. The fact that it also upset my stomach further reduced my interest in its consumption. A trip to Israel changed all that. There, cousin Gila introduced us to “botz” (mud) or Turkish coffee. Dark, sweet, and whatever you do, don’t drain the cup! On a visit to Brazil, I consumed numerous daily thimblefuls of their dark brew, to only good effects. But again, back in the States, coffee’s charm faded. Until Australia.

Setting out on a two month visit there, I was determined to try the “flat white” I had heard so much about. One cup, and I was a goner. Though it turned out that a flat white was really a latte in disguise. Seems that Australia has had a huge influx of immigrants from Italy over the years, and the renowned Italian coffee culture came right along with them. Espresso, latte, cappuccino, wonderfully brewed and served everywhere, from our local Bar Coluzzi, beloved of John Travolta and Luciano Pavarotti, to a diner down south with wild kangaroos hopping around out back, the coffee never disappointed. And my daughter-in-law Miriam got me on my feet every day with an outstanding cup as well.



Immediately upon our return, we fired up the espresso machine that had been gathering dust since I got it on sale from Amazon, and the flat whites and cappuccinos began to stream forth, while the milk steamed and frothed. All those wondrous health benefits I’ve read through the years that coffee confers can now be mine. And, as a friend informed me, I have now been inducted into the International Society of Coffee Snobs. Take that, Starbucks!

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