Tuesday, 21 October 2008

Proper coffee: do you do it?

Living as I do in a backwater, I often miss trends. They pass me by, and until they’re shoved right under my nose I’m not even aware of their existence.

Making proper coffee is one of them. I’m not a coffee person (one cup gives me the jitters; another, and I can’t sleep for 24 hours) but many of my friends are. I’ve had an oldfashioned coffee percolator for yonks and that’s what I haul out when coffee is called for. I keep a packet of ground filter coffee in the fridge, sealed as instructed, for this purpose.

My friend Johann told me recently that this wasn’t good enough. I was amazed. ‘So what should I be doing, then?’ I asked him.

He made a contemptuous phttt-ing noise.

‘Seriously,’ I said, ‘tell me. I honestly don’t know. Oh… you mean I should have one of those Bodum plunger jobs?’ And even as I launched into the reason I don’t (the one and only plunger I ever had popped on me the second time I used it; it gave me a couple of nasty burns and I was cleaning coffee off the kitchen walls for months), he was laughing snarkily.

‘Pressure!’ he finally said.

He refused to enlighten me further – for a trendy person like Johann, I am often an embarrassment.

Once, we were out for dinner and he was about to use the bottle of ‘spring’ water ‘kindly’ put on the table by the establishment. ‘Don’t open that!’ I shouted, loudly enough to make him jump and other diners to look around in curiosity.

Johann sighed. ‘Why?’ he asked.

‘Because it costs the bloody earth!’ I said. ‘Seriously, I’ve been in one of these places before’ [it was a well known seafood-restaurant chain] ‘and it’s a total rip-off. They put it on the table so you’ll drink it, then they charge you through the nose for it.’

Johann rolled his eyes but didn’t open the water. When the waiter turned up, he confirmed that the bottle of water cost R22. (TWENTY-TWO RONT FOR A BOTTLE OF WATER???!!!)

I asked the waiter (rhetorically, obviously), ‘Would you pay R22 for a bottle of water?’ and he looked uneasy.

Johann gave me A Look and said to the waiter, ‘Ignore her. She’s mad, but she’s not dangerous.’

Anyway, I suffered in ignorant silence for quite a long time about the coffee, until three visits to friends in rapid succession cleared things up for me. Friends A have one of those hissy, steamy machines that require the use of a gynaecological-looking gizmo to produce what amounts to two sips of coffee in a cup the size of a thimble, with a cocaine-like kick that would keep me awake for a week. Friends B have similar, but with an additional goedemadoetjie that makes milk into froth.

Friends C – and this is where I realised how hopelessly out of touch I am – have not only the hissy, steamy machine, the gynaecological-looking accoutrements, and the milk-frother-thingie, but also (a) a coffee roaster and (b) a coffee grinder. Friends C buy raw coffee beans and make their own coffee literally from scratch!

It put into perspective my woefully gigantic lack in the coffee department. But I’ve priced these hissy-steamy gadgets and all their add-ons and they cost enough to put down a deposit on a small villa in Tuscany, so my move into modern-day coffee gadgetry is nowhere in the near future. Fortunately, my sister did give me a Bodum plunger for my birthday, so while I’m not entirely on track yet where coffee is concerned, I’m getting there. Slowly, and with a little help from my friends.

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Tamara said...

Jeepers! I thought I was a coffe snob, but I'll happily drink instant. Just as long as it's Nescafe Alta Rica ;-)

As for bottled water... it's ridiculous to pay for the stuff when the water that come sout the tap is just fine. And R22... puhleeeze!

Candy Tothill said...

I drink [lots and lots of] Ricoffee... and I am NOT ashamed to admit it!

Muriel said...

I'm honoured to be in your company! I usually do the Nescafe thing too. I drank a couple of cups of coffee made in my new Bodum plunger this morning and I've ground my teeth down to stubs.

tonypark said...

Nescafe and cremora here in the bushveld.

I can blow in a sraw if you want froth.