A Lesson in Coffee

A cup o'caffeine (Cappuccino pictured)

Oh, my. Coffee. Caffeine. Craving.

Children don’t like it, teens are tempted to it and anyone who has stayed up until two in the morning writing a two-thousand word essay is probably (most definitely) hooked on it.

iKnow, iKnow… it might not be your thing. You could be a Red Bull raver or a Tea Time taster. In which case you probably order tea or hot chocolate or a mocha when you get dragged down to the local cafe. Poor thing.

Don’t worry though. iStand here today with a somewhat helpful guide to coffee for you Starbucks virgins and H2O aficionados! Fear not the Italian names and the oddly fashionable barista! Well, maybe the barista. Be kind to your barista and you will be rewarded.

Barista is just fancy talk for the people who make and serve your drinks. In a world where your brain can’t function without its daily cup o’caffeine , the barista is your saviour. A good rapport with him or her can lead to free drinks, size upgrades and the occasional  extra shot of syrup/espresso. Unless your barista is fashionably aloof, a smile can work wonders. They get enough energy-starved grumps on their shift.

So you vaguely know the people. What about the important stuff? Basics! There’s straight up black coffee. That’s right: an old fashioned mug of dark putrid liquid served with or without sugar, depending on how jaded you are. A dash of milk softens the taste but I advise drinking it black if you really need to wake up. If you’re interested in other forms of plain black coffee, google kopi’o: a thick (often very sweet) black coffee served in Malaysia: perfect on the rocks.

Disregard the syrupy flavours unless you're addicted to both sugar and caffeine.

Firstly- the espresso. The espresso is an intense shot of coffee usually served in a very small cup. Seriously, it really is a shot. People who like intense coffee (or who happen to be male, above the age of 35) like their espresso. It’s extremely bitter but it’s also the best form of coffee to taste when observing different ‘flavours’. Want to understand why some coffee blends are described as fruity and others as… uh, nutty? Best way to tell the difference is with an espresso.

The espresso also forms the base of other popular coffee drinks you see on elusive cafe menus. The cappuccino, pictured above, is a cup of frothed milk with one or two shots of espresso. iQuite like it myself. iMean, it even looks delicious. A close relative of the cappuccino is the Flat White, which is a more recent invention. Thank the Kiwis for that. It’s a cup of very velvety milk with about two shots of espresso– and it can be difficult to make so trust only a practiced barista. The drink is popular in New Zealand and Britain, as far as iCan tell.

Now here comes the weaker drinks! If you really are a coffee cynic, then these are more your style. They’re a good place to start when you’re submitting to peer pressure by trying to fit in with those cool coffee kids at college (hooray, alliteration and social critique!). So let’s look at the Latte. A glass of milk with one shot of espresso…i.e. one third espresso, two thirds milk. Throw in a sugar cube and you may consider it a tolerable drink. A mocha is like a latte but with added chocolate powder or syrup. Yummy: frothy like a cappuccino and some people like it with whipped cream. Those not brave enough declare their childish tastes with a hot chocolate, order this. iWon’t go into frappuccinos. Filled to the brim with sugary goodness, it is unlikely for people to confess frappuccino-ignorance.

iPersonally go for a good cappuccino/flat white. But hey, one has to broaden one’s tastes.

Recently, iHave expressed an interest in that intriguing concoction… Turkish coffee. Sorry to say that iHave not yet attempted to taste it but iAm very eager to. Turkish Coffee isn’t a type of blend: it is a method of preparing coffee. iUnderstand that it is often very thick and bitter and that the grounds form a muddy layer at the bottom of the espresso-size cup. It is typically drunk with sugar although some Arabs take it plain with a sweet dessert on the side. Another adventure for The illiterate Blogger, no doubt! How about having an adventure of your own? Coffee Culture doesn’t require heavy tomes or an expensive trip around the world… not a bad way spend a couple of dollars.

Now. Go drink read something.

-The illiterate Blogger-


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