Coffee says so much about culture (by Hardy Griffin)


Coffee says so much about a culture

Coffee says so much about a culture — in the past, Americans wanted a certain level of quality and massive quantities (leave the pot, honey) for a fixed price. Now they sell the best coffee styles (not necessarily the coffee itself, mind you) around the world for exorbitant prices, particularly in malls and airports.

Germans demand a higher quality that’s well packaged and whose supply is nevercut off (they did learn something from invading Russia).

The French make it all about presentation (cups are for wussies, we want bowls!) and a rich, saucy creaminess.

The Italians make a minuscule amount of heaven (see the Sant’Eustachio Il Caffe post).

And what about those who present the original (or so it seems) version of coffee, with the grounds directly in the cup and not filtered out? I’m talking about Ethiopian/Eritrean/Somalian/Egyptian/Greek/Turkish coffee — boil, toil, and trouble in a copper pot on the range top. The foam is also important but not nearly as smooth as Italian, the middle is heavy and rich to the point of suffocating, and the bottom is… well, the dregs. How do you know when you’re done? The first dregs just pass your lips and that’s when you put the cup down, put the saucer on top, turn it 3 times in front of you, flip it, and wait for it to cool to read your fortune (see photo above) — and here is the real hedonism, a kind of animism rising up from the dregs, the earth below you. ‘The dregs are a part of you and determine all that you can possibly be’ it seems to say as you stare down into it. No doubt this is why the American chains simply don’t sell the stuff outside of these regions (and they don’t recommend it there, either — it will be too bitter, they say).

by H.G.

Hardy Griffin is a founding editor of The Wall and Novel Slices literary rags. Take a look:

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