A Decent Cuppa
Why is it so hard to get a decent cuppa? At the end of a nice meal, something warm and wet to wash down the sweetness of dessert without overloading your caffeine receptors. Is there anything better than the anticipation, first thing in the morning, as dawn is breaking, waiting at the kitchen window as the kettle boils and you look forward to the delicate aroma of a fragrant Assam blend. The scent, almost as invigorating as the drink itself.
I admit there was a time when I felt this way about coffee, but that was many years and several children ago. As an ex-coffee lover I can remember the painful time in Australia BC (Before Cappuccino). A time when coffee meant a teaspoon of powdered granules and Nescafe was a luxury brand. Even after most capital cities took on the challenge of trying to work a coffee machine without any training (the pre-Barista era) it has taken a while to drag our country cousins out of BC times. I still remember a trip out west 10 years ago, walking into the sole general store and meeting a sight that made my urbanised travelling companion sigh with relief. A brand new menu board hanging above the counter and painted with a selection of coffees that one would normally only find in a city centre.
My companion, unwisely, ordered a macchiato, only to be asked, “What’s a matchiyato?”
“One of the coffees on your board”, he quite sensibly replied. The proprietor glanced a little guiltily at the board and I started to suspect that perhaps he’d gotten a good deal on the board from a disposal store, “We can only do cappuccinos,” he responded. Well, at least all was not lost so we ordered two and the proprietor headed to the back of the shop. It was then that I realised that there did not appear to be a coffee machine to match the impressive coffee board but I did hear the familiar sound of a microwave.
“There you go”, the proprietor proceeded to proudly plonk down two mismatched cups clearly filled with instant cappuccino from a sachet, clearly a ground breaking initiative for the store. We certainly had to award points for effort and my friend silently counted his blessings that no genius had yet invented the macchiato sachet.
But, I hear you say, what has all this to do with my story about finding a decent cuppa? Unlike a decent coffee, which requires a combination of factors to be drinkable such as quality of blend, storage of beans, efficacy of coffee machine, competence of barista, a good tea is cheap and easy to make – as everyone’s grandma can attest. Before my own nana was seduced by the ease and convenience of tea bags, the tea making ritual consisted of swirling some hot water round a teapot, emptying it, filling it with one serve of tea leaves per person plus an extra one for the pot, pouring over freshly boiled water, steeping for 3-5 minutes and then pouring into a fine china cup. In common with coffee, the best technique in the world would not compensate for poor starting ingredients.
So why, if the process is so much simpler, is it impossible to be served a decent cuppa at any cafe or restaurant? Imagine, coffee lovers, meeting your friends at a cafe. You all pay the same amount of money yet while they all wait for the barista to grind, tamp and extract you are presented with a lukewarm cup of water that someone has inexpertly thrown a coffee pod at and, to add insult to injury, added a tablespoon of milk on top before any coffee has found its way out of the pod and into the cup. If you would find a cup of coffee served to you in this way unacceptable then why are cups of tea invariably served this way?
Tea drinkers of the world unite! We need to demand the same level of service enjoyed by coffee lovers. Enough is enough. Next time you are at a coffee stand, while others order tall, decaf long blacks with dashes, ask for your dreams to be realised, “I’ll have a blend of Tibetan and Chinese black teas covered with freshly boiled water in a pre-heated teapot and steeped for exactly four and half minutes before being served, without delay, in a bone china tea set directly to my table.” Try it, and keep trying it, until one day we are met with success.
Part 2 still to come...........
Part 2 still to come...........