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Day 159: Coffee in America

Day 159: Starbucks, yuck.

Day 159: Starbucks, yuck.

I start most of my days with a nice hot cup of coffee, except for when I decide to switch it up with a cup of tea, and I wouldn’t (or couldn’t) have it any other way. I love coffee; it is a spice of my life, and I can now see American coffee in a new light after being gone for 3 years.

So, where to start?

American coffee is predominantly composed of drip coffee, but there are the cafes and coffee shops that produce cappuccinos and lattes that I either love or hate depending on how it’s done.

Drip Coffee

Australians make fun of the American drip coffee, but I like it. It’s easy to drink, hot and cheap. You can head to a restaurant and get a bottomless cup for a couple of bucks served up with some cream and sugar, if that’s how you take it. Drip coffee in America is pretty hard to mess up unless it isn’t made fresh.

Specialty Coffee

Specialty coffee would include cappuccinos and lattes. Since being in America, we’ve stopped at a couple of Starbucks and other cafes, but I have to be honest: I haven’t been impressed. First off, the cappuccinos have been served too hot almost every single time. And, if it wasn’t too hot, it was just too milky (reminiscent of coffee in Malaysia). Yes, there are some places that serve up a good coffee, but I think they are few and far between in many parts of this country. Maybe being in Australia has spoiled me?

Add-ins and Sweeteners

Add-ins and sweeteners are popular in America. If you want a coffee with soy milk, light milk, sugar, caramel syrup or sugar-free syrup, it is absolutely an option, and one that is requested often. I would say that standard milk coffees and sugar are the norms in Australia and many other parts of the world.

Final thought: I wouldn’t say coffee in America is anything special… I mean, no one has ever tried to write my name in my cappuccino foam here before.


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27 Responses to Day 159: Coffee in America

  1. Elizabeth June 17, 2011 at 2:38 pm #

    If you are ever in Lynchburg, VA, the BEST place to get coffee is a shop called “The Muse.” I wasn’t a coffee drinker until I started trying the different specials there. They blow Starbucks out of the water.

    My friend Tiffany describes it perfectly!

    • Brooke June 23, 2011 at 7:38 am #

      Can’t say I’ll b over that way soon, but thanks for the tip. I’m always after a good cup nowadays 🙂

  2. Melissa June 17, 2011 at 2:45 pm #

    Hey! I’m actually glad you posted about this… because I have to say, since returning to Canada from Australia… I can’t drink the coffee here. Drip coffee is crap. I was having flat whites nearly every single day in Australia and here, nobody even knows what a flat white is! It’s terrible. Not to mention back in Oz the beans they used were delicious, every place you went almost always had RAW sugar. Here? Canadians seem to think Tim Horton’s is the be all and end all of coffee. Don’t get me started on Tim Hortons. That darn company has brainwashed Canadians into thinking their coffee is actually good. But if you look at the details — its drip coffee, they use Grade F beans, and theres even been talk of them having some sort of additive in it that makes it addictive. Now the sugar thing… very few places offer RAW sugar, it’s either the over processed white stuff or sweeteners.

    Needless to say, I’ve switched to tea for the next few months here.

    Counting the days till I return to Australia and can drink good coffee again!

    • Brooke June 23, 2011 at 7:39 am #

      When are you headed back dear?

      • Melissa June 24, 2011 at 12:39 pm #

        hopefully at the beginning of october… if not, my flight is currently booked for Nov 1st — I am looking to change that to an earlier date though. Wanna find some work until before Christmas, then my visa’s up, and I’ll go over to NZ and do a working holiday there.

  3. Tony June 17, 2011 at 7:29 pm #

    But the real question is: Have you had a barista try to write your name in cappuccino drip before?

    • Brooke June 23, 2011 at 7:43 am #

      A girl can dream…

  4. Erin @ Brownie Bites June 17, 2011 at 10:06 pm #

    I need coffee like cars need gas. A steaming mug of drip coffee with “the pink stuff” and a splash of skim milk does me just fine, but I’ll admit.. the Pumpin Spice Latte that Starbucks whips up every holiday season is my guilty splurge.. Mmmm..

    • Brooke June 23, 2011 at 7:44 am #

      Ohhh Pumpkin spice is nice… I also enjoy the gingerbread lattes.

  5. Adam @ SitDownDisco June 18, 2011 at 2:39 am #

    Yeah, I’m just not into drinking any coffee out of a paper cup… Then add some of that ghastly syrup into it and it turns the beauty of coffee into a circus! I’m happy with your standard latte, 2 shots of coffee… Prefer not to drink an espresso drink like a latte if it’s from a place that is getting free umbrellas and cups from the coffee roaster. 🙂

    • Brooke June 23, 2011 at 7:45 am #

      So, you never drink coffee from a to-go cup?

      • Adam @ SitDownDisco June 23, 2011 at 10:55 am #

        Very rarely. I avoid it all costs and usually do without coffee altogether if it’s in a paper cup. I just don’t think it’s worth and secondly, I feel a bit vulgar drinking on the run like that. 🙂

  6. Jason Castellani June 18, 2011 at 3:13 am #

    I am a daily coffee drinker and I prefer the drip. I call it the classic coffee, no sugar, no cream / milk. Add sweetners, syrups, creme etc and it’s no longer coffee to me; it’s a dessert!

    In Latin America I realized they don’t have good coffee readily available either. It’s Nescafe everywhere. The good stuff is shipped to the US, Europe or China. But, in our business world today it’s about product expansion / dilution. Create as many different things you can from one single product to keep the customers coming. So now we have all these specialty drinks / desserts and the original simple coffee is lost.

    I like experimenting with the different grades and flavors of coffee, something that’s pretty easy to do in the US. Being in Miami, the cuban coffee is everywhere, but it’s way to sweet for me. I prefer the Italian espresso, it packs more of a punch without the sweet. The lemon peel is nice too.

    • Brooke June 23, 2011 at 7:47 am #

      So true about the sweeteners making it dessert! A good coffee doesn’t need anything to make it taste good in my opinion. If I add milk or sugar, it’s probably not a nice brew 😉 Thanks for the comment. I would love to try me some cuban coffee…

  7. Adrienne @Shenventure June 18, 2011 at 3:51 am #

    Yeah, I’ve been traveling around Asia the last couple months and haven’t had good coffee since Australia. Man… I’m really missing coffee in Melbourne right now.

    • Brooke June 23, 2011 at 7:49 am #

      Are you getting used to Nescafe on your travels?

  8. Elise June 18, 2011 at 4:01 am #

    When we went to the States, we weren’t big fans of the coffee either. Although we did find a great little cafe in Brooklyn….but it was owned by and Aussie!!

    One of my local cafes where I used to go nearly every weekend back in Sydney, always would make cute little foam art on my cappuccino!!

    • Brooke June 23, 2011 at 7:52 am #

      What cafe did you go to in Sydney??? I want foam art!

      • Elise July 6, 2011 at 7:07 am #

        It was Driftwood Cafe-in Narrabeen on the Northern Beaches-about 5 mins away from where Ant and I used to live….although I think the Barista has left there now that used to do really good foam art!

  9. Bluegreen Kirk June 22, 2011 at 12:20 am #

    I guess I like to keep it simple. No milk or flavors just coffee a nice cup of black coffee maybe just maybe a cube of sugar and its enough for me. I don’t want my coffee to taste like a hot smoothie.

    • Brooke June 23, 2011 at 7:52 am #

      So no lattes for you? 🙂

  10. Tim Van Autreve June 23, 2011 at 2:04 am #

    Why do Australians poopoo our drip coffee?

    • Brooke June 23, 2011 at 7:53 am #

      Hehe… come to Australia and you’ll see 😉 Their idea of coffee is something made from espresso. You ask for a coffee and they serve you up a capp or flat white or something similar. Percolators are hard to come by.

  11. Roy | cruisesurfingz June 23, 2011 at 8:17 am #

    Portland & Seattle has great coffee actually. It is possible to find good espresso in USA 🙂

  12. MaryAnne June 23, 2011 at 10:03 am #

    I’m originally from the west coast of Canada, which has, like Seattle and Portland, a very good coffee culture- good beans, on-site roasting, awareness of preparation. In the 17 years since I left home, I’ve spent a lot of time in places with abysmal coffee (Cape Town in late 1990s? Gah! Ricoffy is NOT coffee! And Guatemala? What’s up with the watered down Nescafe?)

    I actually like drip coffee if it’s a strong, dark roast. My parents make theirs using half espresso grind/half dark drip grind. They also keep a stovetop espresso whoosher on hand for days when you don’t fancy a big strong mug of black coffee. I do the same here in Shanghai. Some days are good for a double espresso with some heated milk and some days all I want is a really big mug of super strong filter coffee (we use straight up espresso grinds for ours- makes it really strong and rich) with Chinese dark-brown sugar (like molasses, practically) and a hint of milk.

    Filter coffee needn’t be as dire as those awful Tim Hortons double-double things (double cream, double sugar? Bleh!!). Strong, freshly brewed and black- yum.

  13. Larry Love December 3, 2011 at 6:47 am #

    I would disagree that Latin America doesn’t have good coffee. You do have to look for it a little since the best coffee is usuallys saved for export. In Colombia, Mexico, DR, it’s not too hard though to find good coffee.

    Also I want to point out that we (as in Americans from the U.S.) like to think we are a big coffee drinking culture but I would say up until maybe 15-20 years ago our coffee culture was pretty pathetic. We drank a lot of bad coffee made improperly.

  14. Mezzanine February 8, 2012 at 7:37 pm #

    Hi, we’re off to America’s west coast and I’m worried I won’t be able to find a good coffee, we drink flat whites, where would we find that in the US? I’m even thinking of taking my own jar of instant!

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