Coffee Culture: The Beloved Brew, Hacks & Cocktail Twists

From pods to coffee bean grinders, filter coffee to traditional Turkish methodology, coffee lovers the world over, have become more articulate in their coffee preferences, and unapologetic about their tastes, while also listening to the sustainability movements pushing for more environmentally-friendly coffee products, as well as sustainable business models where the bean starts its journey, and not just where it’s shipped to.

I love tea more – that’s me just being frank!

I adore traveling the world with my senses, as fragrant steam from perfectly steeped tea bellows out of my mug.

I have nothing against coffee at all; in fact, I am a fan of coffee – the stronger the brew, the better.

I dream of one day taking stock of a beautiful day while sitting at an elegant Italian coffee bar drinking macchiato’s and caffè d’orzo, or visiting Columbia’s reported coffee-themed amusement parks. I am so open to sampling Vietnamese specialty coffee too, especially considering one of the best coffee stops in Vietnam floats on the Kenh Te Canal.

Turkish Coffee

However, unlike the acclimated familiarity my body now has with any kind of tea at any time of the day, for me, coffee can only be drunk and enjoyed at certain times of the day, when my throat and stomach are amenable.

But much like bean-lovers who need a cup or 3 to wake them, or to just please them, once I crave a cup and begin sipping, I am honed into all its merits (like antioxidants).

New York Times’s Jane E. Brody (2021) says that drinking coffee…

“…has been linked to a reduced risk of all kinds of ailments, including Parkinson’s disease, melanoma, prostate cancer, even suicide.”

I, myself, am in it for how the robust coffee flavors I’m often introduced to by my coffee aficionado friends both calms and refreshes, in equal measure. A cup or 2 of coffee won’t actually keep me from sleep, but I do feel different having drunk some, and it’s a welcome state of being too.

Locals and the Beans Terrior

Coffee is not a subtle drinking trend where I live.

South Africans are also fans of coffee – and not just city-dwelling 9-to-5ers seeking a morning brew. The Cape, for example, with its title of having the largest number of independent coffee bean roasters in South Africa, has many cafes and coffee houses that managed to survive the harsher pandemic levels, on the strength of their all day takeaway coffees and coffee bean (as well as coffee paraphernalia) sales.

“It turns out that even with quality beans, it’s hard to be a good home barista without the right tools. Some of these things are admittedly pricey but entirely worth it, according to coffee experts.”

Jenn Ackerman. (2021). New York Times

Cape Town is infamous for having one of the most high-quality coffee cultures, and its baristas are some of the best in the world. The cosmopolitan city has more than 60 establishments dedicated to coffee and coffee products, including:

Isabella Blend from Mischu Coffee

Terrior is a huge component of why there’s a huge market for varied beans in this part of the world. You can find everything from single-origin beans and civet coffee if you’re lucky and splurging, to Java, Toraja, and even Sumatran. Coffee lovers this side of the world, seem prone to trying out new beans from time to time, for the subtlest shifts in flavors, trendy preparations, and seasons.

The cafes and stores do their best to stock fine beans from around the world, and locally made – a variety (from light to dark roasts) for palates that tend to favor more robust fusion flavors – and blessedly, there are standalone coffee houses and indie cafes which delve deep into properly appreciating the bean too.

Interesting Coffee brands and places to look out for, include:

  • Isabella Blend, by Mischu Coffee (a 100% premium quality washed Arabica coffee)
  • Malawi Gold Blend, by Tribe Coffee Foundry Café & Roastery
  • Black Honey, by Truth Coffee (a blend tempering acidity with sweetness)
  • Antithesis (decaf coffee), by Truth Coffee
  • Black Insomnia (the worlds strongest coffee), stocked at Haas Collective
  • Coco Safar Capsule Boxes (their capsules are made from 80+ specialty coffee, compostable and Nespresso-compatible)
  • Coco Safar Voyage House Blend, by Coco Safar (contains a blend of Costa Rica, Colombia, and Brazil and has flavor notes of milk chocolate, maple syrup, and strawberry jam.)
The interior at Coco Safar

And much like places with an abundance of coffee aficionados (think Turkey, Vienna, Brazil, or Italy), what is seen as the bastardization of coffee (think of the proliferation of Starbucks) actually relates to inventive ways to prepare and enjoy the beverage in the age of sharing vibrant and unique lifestyle choices on social media. Now, you can find the likes of nitro brews, CBD-infused cuppas, iced lattes, and so much more ubiquitous creative twists to coffee fixes – including in coffee art.

Warm Coffee is not the Beans endgame

There is a continent-hopping time-honored tradition, which worldly tastebuds have embraced along with the 90s nostalgia resurgence, involving the mixing of liquor with coffee or espresso – including cream-topped beverages, and infused drinks.

“The appeal of mixing uppers and downers needs little explanation: Consider the popularity of vodka with Red Bull among clubgoers”

Becky Hughes. (2021). New York Times

Today, product ranges that include coffee quite prominently, include coffee spirits, concentrates, tinctures, liqueurs, and syrups available at your nearest liquor store or cocktail bar.

Matcha from Cha Cha Matcha (Los Angeles)

Now, regardless of the time of day, consumers have the option of simple black coffee or choices like coffee cocktails. Those eager to try something different should look into ordering:

  • Irish Coffee – Can actually be had both warm and cold (Coffee, Irish whiskey, demerara syrup ideally, and freshly whipped cream)
  • Cold Gold Chain – originated in Portland (USA), and is summed up as a caffeinated Old Fashioned. (bourbon drink, with coffee liqueur and cold brew, as well as Chipotle-cacao bitters)
  • The Spanish Coffe – (overproof and ignited Rum in a sugar-rimmed and nutmeg dusted glass; dousing coffee liqueur in, and topping with coffee, some whipped cream, as well as more nutmeg.)
  • Tijuana Speedball – (Irish Cream, cold brew coffee, tequila, and coffee liqueur)
  • and the Espresso Martini – (vodka, freshly brewed espresso, coffee liqueur – garnished with three roasted coffee beans.

“Just remember that caffeine does affect your perception of intoxication, so maybe stick to just one or two at the most of these boozy, caffeinated drinks.”

Alex Frane. (2021). Portland Eater

Can you Hack it?

I’ve also come across some of the most surprisingly effective coffee hacks on the right side of the internet. Here are a few to try to make your life easier/better:

  • The right storage container, is everything. Get an airtight container if you must!

From my experience, when oxygen meets coffee over even a brief time, you get stale flavor for your coffee. Heat, light, and moisture are also enemies of your beans longevity. Additionally, most coffee that comes in foil-lined and resealable valve bags, is better secured within those containers. You can diminish the overall freshness and flavor of your coffee when you pour out your coffee into another container as it disrupts the layer of carbon dioxide that surrounds the beans, and protects it.

Keep things tight, and keep them secured in a cool, dark spot.

  • Try using a bit of cinnamon instead of sugar to get a sweeter taste from your cuppa
  • Coffee grinds make for excellent repellent and fertilizer, so toss your leftover coffee grinds into your garden
  • Freeze your coffee in an ice cube tray, and then use those coffee ice blocks to cool down your coffee in the morning.
  • Coffee mug stains inside the cup, can be cleaned with baking soda and hot water.
  • To make your cup of coffee taste less bitter, oddly enough, add a pinch of salt to your coffee.
A grande Cappuccino from Mischu Coffee

Coffee Fixing while battling Loadshedding

And as blackouts make their way comfortable across South Africa for another two decades, solutions for acquiring your coffee fix without the power suppliers doing their one job, include:

  • Fireside – yeah, seriously! If you have the safe space to do so, light an open flame fire the old-fashioned and contained way, and boil yourself some water, or go medieval with a slow coffee brew in a pot.
  • Gas it up – portable camping gear is a boon to the privileged who can get their hands on it. If you can, grab your gas stove and start brewing when the electricity goes.
  • Thermos and Travel-sized secure mugs can save your life! Store hot water for hours, if properly secured, and be able to enjoy a hot brew because you planned ahead when the lights were still on!
  • Generate or hit Battery park – gadgets and gizmos are saving people from a world of work and lifestyle problems as the country is plagued by blackouts, and one of the must-buys is a generator. Short of a generator, look into powered-up battery packs which would allow you to even start up your kettle and laptop.
  • I App‘n to exist – Coming in from far and wide, there are restaurants and cafes in your area, that will likely be available for coffee delivering via Mr. D, UberEats, Bolt Food, or another food delivery app, so check your listings and loadshedding times, and secure your fix!
  • Support your open neighborhood coffee house or cafe – they could use the money and support. Grab a cup of coffee you didn’t have to make, and maybe even spot them a short review on Google Review. It’ll come back to you, maybe with a free cup at your next visit!
A grande Cappuccino from Mischu Coffee

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