Friday, March 23, 2012

As Colombian as coffee

Sometimes when I start speaking passionately about coffee, I invoke the Colombian defense. Every once in a while someone will point out that Colombians don't drink coffee, or that Colombians don't drink good coffee.

Yesterday I attended a social media event (my very first industry conference!) and during the break I talked to someone who mentioned that. According to him, and he knew this because of a friend who had been to Colombia, Colombia has no coffee culture.

It's true. At least if you're going by American standards. You're not going to find a coffee shop per corner with long lines. You're not going to see people heading to work, travel mug in hand.

When I first came to New York, a friend from Brazil was showing me around. It was a snowy winter (remember those?) We were freezing in Times Square. He wanted to show me something weird, so we walked over to a street cart and bought coffee. It came in a cup, and it had a lid.

It was one of those tabbed lids that you fold back to open. The warmth in my hands my welcome, but I couldn't figure out the lid. Was it to keep the coffee warm while to you went with it somewhere?

No. More often than not the lid is just so you can drink coffee while walking. That's the part that doesn't make sense.

Handmade cup by Ming. This is what I use everyday for my morning coffee.
Coffee is more than a jolt of caffeine. Coffee is to be savored. Coffee is to be had fresh and in ceramic cups. It's best with family or friends. A close second is to have it in the morning, at home, while listening to chirping birds. That's how I have it most days.

You stop what you are doing, and you enjoy your coffee. 

Who needs coffee shops or fancy equipment when you've got Arabica beans and a pot of boiling water?

If your lifestyle doesn't allow that, then you wait for the coffee man. He'll come around at some point. He walks with a set of coffee thermoses on his shoulder. He'll be calling out his song. When you hear the song, you flag him down and he'll come to you. He'll pour you a cup and sit with you until you're done. You'll have your coffee. He'll pack up his things and go his way after having enjoyed coffee together.

Coffee man rounding up my parent's block.