What Good Coffee means to me – Gemma B

Everyone is going to have a difference of opinion as to what good coffee is to them, maybe that’s one of the great things about it!  I have drunk coffee all over the world.  From Indonesia to Peru, Italy to New Zealand and a lot of places in between. Different cultures prefer different types of coffee and different methods of preparation and along the way it has shaped my coffee drinking. 

My coffee journey started on an extremely cold morning camping in Western Australia, I had never been keen on coffee but that morning when the only warm drink was a coffee someone offered me I drank it!  This was the start of a journey of coffee drinking around the world! In Indonesia I found the method of pouring boiling water over finely ground deep, bold and darkly roasted coffee beans overpowering.  The coffee is drunk generally black, with a thick, mudlike consistency from the fine grounds with a large quantity of raw sugar.  I learned to drink along with my Indonesian friends but not truly enjoy this style of coffee.  From here a stint in Western Australian coffee shops was a welcome relief.  As a coffee novice I could drink my coffee not too strong with plenty of steaming milk in a nicely atmospheric coffee shop (and pay the price of a weekly Indonesian wage for the privilege!).

black Coffee disposable cup
Photo by Trip & Trek India

Taking my new found enjoyment of coffee via the non-descript coffee houses of New Zealand and Chile, South America, rocking up in coffee capital Peru I was somewhat shocked to find it near impossible to find a decent coffee! Or at least one that was to my taste.  Having stocked up on beans from the Starbucks in Lima, which seemed sacrilegious to say the least I was excited to be given a good quality Cusineart coffee maker to experiment with.  Unfortunately living at 11,000ft meant that the water doesn’t boil as hot and the pressure of the coffee maker isn’t as good as it should be.  Most of the good coffee that Peru produces is exported so despite living in cooee distance from the jungle coffee growing region of Jaén I found sourcing good unground beans next to impossible!  However, I began to find local coffee beans to try and finally happened upon a local brand that I could buy in country that I liked as well as a friend that sourced beans direct from the plantation in Huaraz.  The Peruvians generally offer coffee as a strong extract that you mix with hot water to your liking and add evaporated milk to with plenty of sugar.  Much to the amusement of the locals, tourists regular pour the thick syrup like coffee into their cups, adding a dash of milk and take a big swig only to find that it is so mind blowingly strong the headrush lasts for hours and the taste for days!

A close Columbian friend of mine would bring coffee back from Columbia claiming it to be far superior to Peruvian coffee, she would brew me a cup in a method similar to that of Indonesia and then sit back and watch me drink it only to admit she doesn’t drink coffee.  However, those days of sweet, nutty coffees have led me to refine the type of coffee I choose to drink. Returning to Australia; testing the brown burnt dishwater claimed as coffee in the US on the way, my coffee habit has become a darn sight more expensive!  Enjoying a hot flat white (like a latte without the froth) my favour for medium roast, strong coffee has remained.  On a recent trip to Italy I drank espressos standing up and lattes while the kids ate ice creams and thought about my coffee journey.   Now I care little about impressing people with my coffee drinking, whether I’m seen as being a “true” coffee drinker drinking it strong and black or as a latte quaffing housewife matters little.  Coffee now is more about a little moment of bliss; a little bit of tranquillity in a crazy day, a catch up with an old friend, a laugh with another Mum while watching the kids in the playground, a village shop coffee in the paddock hanging onto my horse.  Unless it is truly dreadful (or burnt) coffee for me is always a pleasure to me now, even if it’s taken me a few years to get there.