What Good Coffee means to me – Lucy Sabina

What is good coffee to you? Coffee to me has always been what goes with it; a statement considered “totally disgusting” in the words of my brother. But for many of my generation, going for coffee means cosying down in one the dozen independent coffee shops in our little university town and putting the world to rights. It is not a gourmet treat, but a recipe for staving off the icy winds of the North East and the horror of summative deadlines. Good coffee for me is hot frothed milk, a dash of cinnamon and nutmeg, and vanilla syrup. The best version of this is a chai latte, followed by a gingerbread latte, followed by a simple vanilla latte. The worst version of this is all other Christmas drinks produced by Starbucks. For anyone who follows my baking exploits online or in the real world, they’ll notice that the flavours in my tipple of choice match the flavours in my biscuits and muffins. And here comes my second favourite type of coffee: the type which comes with a little something on the side. My preferred accompaniment would be a lemon and poppy seed muffin, followed up by a cookie or – a more recent arrival in my repertoire alongside my burgeoning maturity – biscotti. Carrot cake and lemon drizzle are also personal favourites but are far more comfortable next to a cup of Earl Grey.

person holding white ceramic cup with hot coffee

The newly mature me has, however, made unprecedented strides into the realms of ‘proper’ coffee. Time spent in a Parisian office introduced me to office coffee addicts, and living with an Italian for six months meant an inevitable introduction to the Moka. The Moka then introduced me to actually enjoyable coffee without enough warm milk poured in to make it suitable for a preschooler’s bedtime routine. A further trip to Italy rewarded me with my own Italian contraption, and university was transformed. The Moka appeals to me because you can buy it in a size that’s right for you – mine is a one-cupper – and it is easy to clean and easy to use. It works by passing boiling water pressurized by steam through ground coffee. My coffee is Italian (tick), bought in Florence (tick) but I can’t tell you much more about it than that… Not much dilly dallying went into the selection process. Coffee is restricted to one a day; tea is endlessly refilled and constantly in hand. Despite my new appreciation for ‘proper’ coffee, I still prefer it to be made for me. In this sense, I’m pretty lucky that at home I am treated to homemade coffees on a daily basis. I’ve upgraded to a cappuccino, but not as far as an espresso. I choose cafes by the availability of study-ready table space, WiFi, appropriate elevator music and snacks, all ranking above the quality of coffee they select. However, I have a lot to learn. Proper coffee stands alongside other grown up pleasures – red wine and spicy food – which I hope to grow to appreciate. Then, I’ll be a real grown up. Here’s hoping. Find more of Lucy’s baking adventures at Lucy Sabina