Welcome to French Friday. Truth? It sort of sneaked up on me. I was shuffling around the kitchen this morning, making my coffee when it slowly dawned on me that it was Friday….and I had not written a French Friday post. What to do, what to do, what to talk about?? I thought as I stared at my french press…patiently waiting for my morning fix of smooth black elixir. And that’s when my “history” with coffee came to mind.
I love coffee. In my later years, I dare say, I have become a bit of a coffee snob. Yep. I am one of those people who would rather not have coffee if it is not really good coffee. Taste, body, brew, strength all make a difference. And yet, I haven’t always loved it. I used to hate it.
Back in my single days I was a Diet Coke addict. I drank it from morning till evening. The best Diet Coke was from McDonald’s (I still believe this). I don’t know what it is with their “brew” but somehow they have come up with the best combination of carbonation and chemicals. It has stood the test of time. It never let me down. Whenever I could, I would start my mornings with a drive-by. Large diet Coke, light ice, s’il vous plait et merci!
After I got married, the Diet Coke addiction continued. However, the Diet Coke girl had married a coffee addict…an undiscriminating coffee addict to boot. I had never seen anyone drink the copious amounts of coffee that my new husband could put away. He drank it from morning till evening. Blech! At that time he was buying dark roast Folgers or Maxwell House. Once in a while he would get me to try a sip. Gag! No thanks. I would quickly grab my Diet Coke to erase the bitters. Would Diet Coke Girl and Coffee Boy ever find balance?
The years passed. Our life continued in the same pattern. When we traveled, I was always with my Diet Coke. On the road, hitting a McDonald’s was usually pretty easy. If we were staying somewhere, whether hotel or with friends, I had a supply of 20 oz. Diet Coke bottles with me. Hubs getting his coffee fix was never a problem either–even if it was the bottom of the barrel, day old coffee–he was good. In his world, that’s why the microwave was created.
By the late 1990s/early 2000s, coffee places were starting to pop up everywhere. You know the ones; Starbucks, Gloria Jean’s, Biggby (originally called Beaners), coffee kiosks in book stores, etc. Now I was hearing words associated with coffee that were completely foreign–and a little exotic–to me. Espresso. Cappuccino. Latte. What the ….? And since I was entering my thirties, I thought perhaps it was time to enter the adult world of coffee drinking (I still snicker at this naïve thought).
I started soft. Lattes! Lattes laden with caramel syrup, whole milk, whipped cream, chocolate sprinkles! Oh! This is coffee? I have been missing out! It was like drinking a candy bar. Pretty soon my caffeine/sugar sopped brain started figuring out that one of my favorite coffee drinks was like drinking 1000 million calories in one sitting. Not good. So I got really serious:
“Yes, I would like a venti, 2 pumps of sugar-free caramel, skinny latte with an extra shot espresso”.
As I got more aware and became more “health conscious” it would change to:
“Yes, I would like a decaf venti, 1 pump sugar-free caramel, soy latte with an extra shot espresso”.
Brett hated ordering my coffee drinks for me. It was a lot to say. And neither of us could ever remember the proper order of ingredients when giving the request to the barista. We just fumbled out the order. But hey! He finally had a coffee drinking wife. His fantasy girl was complete. He ordered. I drank. Marital bliss.
And then in 2004 we went to Paris. It changed everything.
The average Paris bistro, restaurant, brasserie did not offer foo-foo coffee drinks. Nor did they seemingly have Brett’s old faithful, brewed coffee. What they served was straight forward. Espresso. Cappuccino. Cafe presse. And whatever they served was always the BEST. @#$%. COFFEE. EVER.
Here I was, 34 years old, experiencing the joie de café for the first time in my life. I was drinking unflavored, strong coffee and loving every sip of it. I would add a little cream…and that was all I needed. It was so incredibly good. In Paris, I became an adult coffee drinker.
(the “adult coffee drinker” 10/2004)
Ten years later, I have yet to replicate that joyous, taste-bud explosion. And oh, have we tried. I can’t tell you how many types/brands of coffees I have bought to try to find that rich, dark, smooth coffee of Paris. There was a brand from Italy that I used for a while that was very close but my grocer stopped carrying it long ago (and I can’t remember the name). Fellow blogger, Viveka, recommended LaVazza and I am so glad she did. I love LaVazza but it is hard to find it in my neck of the woods (usually have to hunt online). Lately, I have bought a blend from our local coffee shop that is actually really, really good. But whatever I buy, I have found that the best cup of coffee I can make will always come from my French Press.
Brett still drinks his coffee filter brewed. But not me. I think I have surpassed him as a coffee connoisseur. I have no problem waiting a little longer for my morning cuppa (errr…carafe) because I know it will be the BEST. @#$%. COFFEE. I can drink outside of Paris.
And what is my coffee order now?
“Yes, I would like a french press coffee please.”*
If you thought my previous orders were complicated, you would not believe how many furrowed brows I have encountered with this one. Oh. my. word. Just boil some water and give me the press with dark roast coarsely ground beans…I’ll take it from there.
No sugar. No cream. Just boiling hot water over beans. And then the pleasure. I love this quote from Robert Arbor’s book, “Joie de Vivre”:
“In France, we do not rush to drink our coffee. In fact, during a leisurely breakfast, it doesn’t matter to us at all if the coffee in our bowls reaches a lukewarm temperature. We prefer to have the espresso that we drink in the café come to us hot, but at home we are very content lingering over our slowly cooling bowls of coffee.”
How do you like your coffee? Have you tried using a french press?
*occasionally my order will be a triple shot espresso or cappuccino (dry).
P.S. By now you have realized that my link ups haven’t really happened and that the inspiration behind my French Fridays, Cupcake Caramel, is folding up shop. So sad and she will be missed. If anyone would like to link up on French Fridays, just let me know.