What is it about coffee in Europe that makes it taste so good? Why do so many people love Dunkin’ Donuts coffee when it quite obviously tastes (and looks) like gnat’s piss? And why, indeed, do people feel the need to drink a pint of coffee in one go? More to the point, how can they drink a pint of coffee while sitting in traffic on their morning commute? Maybe it’s my bladder, but I can’t imagine putting myself through the agony of needing to pee while trapped in rush-hour traffic, not to mention the agony of drinking a pint of Dunkin’ Donuts coffee every day.
Whenever we visit the in-laws we have to drink coffee percolator coffee that is lukewarm and well, frankly insipid, and when we complain that the coffee is bad, we get accused of being snobbish. How dare they, you say? You We Are Never Full folks are the last bastion in the fight for tasty, authentic food and drink, you shout in support of us. Well, exactly, we say, but evidently, in North America, we are in the minority.
How hard is it to make good coffee? Given that Americans drink more coffee than any other country in the world (you may be interested to know that Brazil is the world’s second largest coffee consumer), is it not preposterous then that the general standard of the beverage across this great land is almost uniformly disappointing? Perhaps this is because of the uniform nature of the beastly chains that have taken over our country, or perhaps its just because people are prepared to pay nearly $3 for a shitty cup of coffee?
But, in answer to the question above, it is not hard at all, and frankly, buying cheap coffee and using simple technology does not mean a poorer drink, in fact, we think it means a better one. Whereas my inlaws have spent around $100 for their Cuisinart coffee maker, and another $35 recently on a replacement pot, we spent less than $10 on our stove-top, Italian-style espresso-maker by Bialetti. We also only spend $2.99 per pound on our coffee.
Cafe Bustelo is certainly not as good as Lavazza or other famous Italian brands, but it is less than half the price, and still produces an excellent tasting cup, both with milk and as an espresso. So, do yourself a favor, get your hands on one these bad-boys to the right and stick some cafe bustelo or cafe pilon in it. You can get 6 cups of espresso or 2-3 cups of cafe con leche out of one of these, but there is one key element to making the latter – hot milk.
Putting an inch and a half of milk in a mug in the microwave for 30 seconds to a minute to heat up before pouring in your coffee makes all the difference in the world to the taste of your morning wake-up. The fact that the milk does not cool the coffee seems to mean that the flavors of the coffee mix better with the milk and allows the aroma to persist longer than it would with cold milk.
So, why does coffee taste better in Europe? Well, undoubtedly it’s the hot milk and the dark roast of the beans, but it’s also got a lot to do with the atmosphere of sitting in the square and enjoying it in a relaxed way rather than in your car, stressed about traffic and needing to pee.