Saturday, July 4, 2009

Coffee Blues

I wonder where I will find good coffee in Quito. Ecuadorians do produce their own coffee beans, but the coffee I have been offered is not the same as the espresso I prefer. I am extremely fussy about coffee. And I have an addiction; if I do not drink by 4 PM, I will have a nasty headache that will not respond to anything but a good few shots of espresso. I do not drink much coffee, perhaps just one or maximum two cups a day, but it has to be good coffee. Here in Woods Hole, we eat breakfast at 'Pie in the Sky', which has amazing and dangerously addicting popovers. I can eat popovers for breakfast lunch and supper. It a bakery, with all sorts of patisserie items, sandwiches and smoothies, and horrible coffee, in fact the coffee is undrinkable. Down the street, 'Coffee Obsession has slightly better coffee, but not good enough. So after having breakfast at 'Pie in the Sky' (two popovers for me), a walk through the main street of Woods Hole in lovely sunshine waiting for the July 4 Parade ( a small event with various MBL departments in costumes of parasites, embryos and microbes with water guns and water balloons), Eric and Maya went to the beach and I got on my bike and pedaled off to Falmouth, a larger town about five miles away. To the closest Starbucks (according to the GPS on my iphone) for my triple espresso macchiato. Ahhhhh!

When in Quito I will have to check out all the local coffee shops for the perfect cup of coffee. I know they have espresso machines, but that does not necessarily ensure excellent coffee. Good fresh and well roasted beans are a start, but the water has to be right and the pressure of the machine accurately adjusted, and the magic of the barista is essential. I am always amazed when in Italy, and whether I choose a well reputed cafe or stop along the highway, the espresso is consistently good. It is variable any other place I go, and Starbucks are not consistent either. Sometimes I make an effort to rid myself of my coffee addiction. Eric no longer drinks coffee, which is unfortunate, because going for coffee and talking about our lives was a good way to get together when our lives were too busy. We have a good espresso machine that makes the foamy milk for cappucino, but since Eric decided to stop being addicted, we no longer make coffee together. I love the taste of coffee, and I feel better when I drink coffee, in fact it is difficult to start my day without a cup. But once in Ecuador, I may have no choice but to spend a few painful days of withdrawal, and find another vice.

Ecuadorians love fruit juice, and with the many diverse fruits available, freshly squeezed juices of all sorts are offered with every meal. Tree tomato is a favourite, but there are pineapple, guava, guavana and dozens more. When Erila stayed with us she had no interest in water or wine or milk or coffee, she just wanted to drink juice of all kinds. I do like to drink juice, so when in Ecuador I will stretch a bit and try those I am unfamiliar with.

Water from the tap is undrinkable, so bottled water is standard (for toothbrushing too). Milk tastes a bit odd (I think they use the kind that stores for long periods and does not need refridgeration, but it does not taste quite right). Wine is not offered too often, there is no wine industry in Ecuador (grapes may not do well with the constant temperatures), and Ecudaorians do not appear to have a tradition of drinking wine. There is definitely beer, and the beer appears to be decent (I am not a beer drinker so I cannot judge the beer at all).

When we stayed with Erika, her mother squeezed a different fruit juice for each meal, most of the time I had no idea what kind of fruit I was drinking, so after a few efforts of trying to ask, I would give up on knowing what I was drinking and simply enjoyed the flavour. When I asked for coffee, I got instant Nescafe, which I tried for the first time and did not repeat the experience. Perhaps when I choose where we live in Eucador, it will be as close as possible to a good cup of coffee, so I can get going every morning. For today, I lingered in Falmouth after I found my espresso drink, wandered into a book sale and bought some classics for myself and a few books for Maya (I have packed up all her books and she has nothing to read) and arrived on the beach to join Eric and Maya as the sun was disappearing and it was time to leave. But I felt great after my cup of excellent coffee; the two hour detour was well worth the time and the effort.

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