Some of the most memorable moments of my life have centered around coffee (coffee, that is, in one of its many forms…i.e. black, with cream, espresso, cappuccino, latte, and even instant). With that in mind, I’ve decided to write a coffee travelog…
It’s been more than thirty years, but I still recall the bold, smooth, creamy flavor of Milchkaffee (coffee with hot milk) I enjoyed while studying abroad in Austria. To this day, Austrian coffee remains the gold standard by which I judge all other cups of coffee.
In that same study abroad period, I visited Germany, and am proud to recall ordering coffee (not beer) at the Hofbräuhaus in Münch. (I also remember dancing on tables and a few other decisions that had little to do with coffee.)
One of my fondest memories is about meeting a young and (obviously) handsome Italian boy while traveling from Naples to Rome. Honestly, I don’t recall what he looked like, but I do remember that he produced an espresso maker from his backpack and proceeded to make me a steaming cup of espresso right there on the train. (Want to impress a girl? Carry an espresso maker in your backpack!)
The pinnacle of my coffee experience occurred in Rome where, if memory serves, after touring the Colosseum I was delighted to find an espresso stand tucked away in one of its antiquated nooks. I don’t remember the taste of the espresso, but the view of the Colosseum while holding a demitasse full of espresso will be forever seared into my memory.
My next adventure with coffee happened almost a decade later while visiting Sydney, Australia. This was in the years before cappuccino had become a regular item on every McDonald’s menu. So, I was surprised, intrigued and—considering my dislike of fast food in general—appalled to see cappuccinos and lattes on the McDonald’s menu in the heart of Sydney. I will admit, however, despite the unappealing smell of coffee and fries, I ordered one. (My first and last McDonald’s cappuccino.)
Another coffee experience, and one I’m not terribly proud of, involved a frozen latte purchased from a Starbucks located right in the center of the Forbidden City in Beijing. I know, I know…it is the height of commercialism to put a Starbucks in the Forbidden City, but if you only knew how much I was sweating, and how HUGE the Forbidden City is, and how difficult it is to get a good cup of coffee in China. I really did enjoy that frozen latte. (If it makes you feel better, I believe Starbucks is now “forbidden” in the Forbidden City.)
Then there was that single cup of Kopi Luwak coffee my husband and I shared while on vacation in Big Sur, California. Why one cup, you ask? Well, because Kopi Luwak coffee is supposedly the world’s best coffee, but more important, it costs $50 a cup! According to Wikipedia: “Kopi luwak or civet coffee refers to the beans of coffee berries once they have been eaten and digested by the Asian palm civet.” Yep, we drank coffee made from beans pooped out of an Asian Palm Civet (a creature that looks something between a cat and a monkey). And it was sooooo good!
My final coffee moment (though surely not my last coffee experience in this lifetime) took place in Thailand, on a rafting trip in Khao Lak, when my husband and I enjoyed a steaming cup of instant coffee served in a bamboo mug. What’s more, I have a video to remind me of it. Cheers!
(So I got a bit mixed up with Bistro and Barista… but you know what I mean.)