Oh, coffee. We have a love-hate relationship, you and me. Sometimes, I drink too much of you; you make my hands shake and my stomach hurt. Other times, I drink a bit and I’m more productive than I could ever be, writing a zillion words per minute and staying on task. I love you, and I hate you; still you remain a spice of my life no matter where I go.
I remember thinking how strange it was to not be able to find a decent cup while in Guatemala seeing how they grow coffee beans like they’re going out of style. Instead, I would typically be met with a sad little cup of Nescafe, which I grew to enjoy more than I think I should. I found it necessary to have some sort of stimulation of the caffeine kind before the intensive Spanish lessons I took. Hours of being bombarded with another language takes a bit out of you, so Nescafe became a good friend.
In Kyrgyzstan, I wasn’t surprised that coffee — real coffee — wasn’t the fashion. I’m not even sure where they’d have to get theirs from to begin with (did they bring it back from their Turkey holidays?), so Nescafe became an even better friend for the months I was there. After so long, finding a real, fresh cup became increasingly worth the price tag a few cafes put on it, and it tasted like Heaven in a cup when we splurged.
On my trips to Almaty, Kazakhstan, the taste of fresh coffee led me to whiling my time away in Gloria Jean’s — that and FREE Wi-Fi (Australia, come on man!). I didn’t want to leave, and I think I dropped more money there than I did on getting to Almaty in the first place.
My Eastern European jaunts (Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia and Ukraine) meant Double Coffee became my place of worship. Double cappuccinos to cure hangovers and just have nice chats with other travelers entered my daily routine, and I couldn’t have asked for anything better.
But, it was there that I heard stories of coffee in Australia. I never knew that a country could be so stuck up about their beans and baristas until I met Aussies telling me stories of how crappy European coffee tasted. “We do it right in Australia,” they would tell me.
I must say that coffee does come in varying degrees in Australia; it’s either really awesome or really shitty. See, they consider a coffee something like a cappuccino or a flat white. The drip coffee that we know and love in America and other parts of the world is their idea of Nescafe — crap. Baristas and baristos are taken very seriously here, and there are coffee schools and classes so that people can pursue their coffee passion.
I’ve tasted more coffee here than in any of my travels, and I’ve done a lot of it with Heather Rudd. We went to a coffee festival together, and then made it a goal to stop off at tons of coffee plantations while in northern Queensland. What we learned: coffees from coffee plantation cafes ROCK.
However, getting outside of the major cities has often left me disappointed after being served over-milky and way-too-hot-to-drink cups that scald my tongue. These, sadly, make me wish I had just been given a cup of always faithful Nescafe. Funny, ain’t it? Traveling the world has made me appreciate a good cup of coffee, but I also appreciate a good Nescafe just as well!