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Coffee around the Globe


Ellen Shapiro
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It’s inevitable—one of the first things I do when I land in a new country is sample the local coffee. Sometimes it isn’t all that different -- in Wellington, New Zealand, there were Starbucks a plenty -- but in others like Singapore, the local brew is a thick brew of beans and condensed milk. I’d almost be willing to fly the 25 hours to Singapore just to have a couple of cups. Anyone ever had any life altering coffee experiences while traveling? Oh -- and what is it about coffee on airplanes? Must it always be so vile?

Ellen Shapiro

www.byellen.com

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Quote: from Ellen Shapiro on 1:57 pm on Dec. 24, 2001

It’s inevitable—one of the first things I do when I land in a new country is sample the local coffee. Sometimes it isn’t all that different -- in Wellington, New Zealand, there were Starbucks a plenty -- but in others like Singapore, the local brew is a thick brew of beans and condensed milk. I’d almost be willing to fly the 25 hours to Singapore just to have a couple of cups. Anyone ever had any life altering coffee experiences while traveling? Oh -- and what is it about coffee on airplanes? Must it always be so vile?

SIN is conflux of many kinds of folks, you'll experience coffees as you traverse from one neighborhood to another -- South Indians want their brew strong and syrupy with milk (not condensed). Arabica @ Raffles along with the home of Singapore Sling :-)

Yes, airline brew is like their food,terrible.

anil

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My first true life-altering coffee experience was in Israel during the summer of 1990 -- a little, nondescript cafe situated in the Tel Aviv "Shuk", where I had a french-style breakfast of croissants, fresh-squeezed Yaffa orange juice and arabic (turkish) coffee. Like freebasing caffeine, marvelous stuff.

I had gone to Italy prior to that and had real italian espresso, but its the arabic coffee in Israel that I found most memorable. The only place in the US that I have found so far that has one anywhere close to it is Bennies in Englewood, NJ. Which also has some really killer arabic-style spiced tea and homemade lebanese pastries/baklava too.

Jason Perlow

Co-Founder, The Society for Culinary Arts & Letters

offthebroiler.com - Food Blog | View my food photos on Instagram

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  • 3 weeks later...

Puerto Rican cafe con leche.  The cortado, or short cup of this milk heavy and sweetened brew is a morning standard for the entire island.  Better than any Starbucks latte (I actually like Starbucks latte) and costs anywhere from 20-35 cents.  My favorite spots?  La Bonbonera in Old San Juan (100 year old diner) get a cortado and a mallorca sweet roll at the bar.  The other one, Plaza Mercado in Santurce, early morning in this fascinating farmer's market.  The best Puerto Rico coffee?  Alto Grande and Yauco Selecto. Runner up, Cafe Crema.    

I also enjoy strong Cuban coffee and especially the ritual of sharing a cup while standing with friends by pouring it into thimble sized containers.  

As an aside, does anyone know where to get good cafe con leche or Cuban coffee in NYC?

Another experience I was not as fond of:  Turkish coffee.  I had this served with loose grounds floating in the coffee (basically hot water poured over grounds).  Kind of like a French Press, but without the press.  Even after I waited for it to settle, I didn't really enjoy.

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  • 4 months later...

Started drinking isntant :angry: with my parents and grandfather in H.S. then grew to drip. Thankfully, drip here is damned good, local roasts, usually coffee with chicory.

Went to Italy in 1984 and had the wonderful strong breakfast coffee with milk (REAL latte) and then cappucino since it was so inexpensive, then on the espresso. Got home and bought an espresso maker for the stove. Changed my life; I'll go without before I drink instant or mass-market again unless it's to be polite.

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I'm guessing that Victor's restaurant has good con leche but if you're looking for a place to just get a cup to go I'm not sure. Next time I'm in Chelsea I'll try the Cuban sandwich place on 8th ave (it's in the mid twenties) and let you know how it is. Among my coffee revelations was trying Ethiopian coffee (as made in the traditional manner) for the first time. It was a heavenly elixir - quite possibly the best coffee I've ever had. The restaurant was in Denver and I was the only customer the entire time I was there. The traditional method involves roasting special grade of green beans on an iron skillet, grinding in mortar and pestel with some spices, then steeping and serving from a special clay pot. It is typically pre-sugared and if you're lucky you may end up in a place that offers the Ethiopian Coffee Ceremony - truly a wonderful experience. On a more recent note, I just returned from Belize, where mediocre coffee (or even instant) is the rule rather than the exception. Was staying on a small and lowkey island called Caye Caulker. My advance research had yielded Cindy's Cafe as the only place onthe island where a good latte or cappucino could be obtained. Imagine my chagrin when I got a watered down latte made with skim milk - at $3 on an island where a good  complete dinner can be purchased for $6-8!  On a hunch I tried the cappucino at Il Biscaro, an Italian restaurant at the north end of the island. It was one of the slowest weeks of the year and they were nearly empty most of the time. Imaganer my suprise when the owner Salvador (native of Milan Italy and he makes an amazing al dente spaghetti) returned with one of the best cappucino's I've ever had anywhere.  He uses a Pavoni manual piston machine and gets Guatemalan coffee from a food whlesaler in Belize City. If you ever get to Caye Caulker give this place a try - amazing food and really cheap.

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