Coffee please !

I am a coffee lover . I could walk miles to get my first coffee in the morning , as long as it is perfect . Before my first cup of coffee I cannot even talk , I am grumpy and hate the world. But just as that warm strong coffee starts flowing through my veins I think alabao ! and I become a nicer person again. Well sort of…….let’s not go crazy here.

I am very lucky to have a boyfriend who shares my same need and passion for the perfect cup and who is ready to go miles looking for that one cup , in my case : 2 cups.

Mediterraneans drink and appreciate good coffee . Americans and English people were drinking Folgers with Carnation milk only a few years ago and now they are all expert Volluto drinkers ?  ummmmmmmm : suspect , lots of style and no substance. Anyone who drinks coffee out of a paper cup is not to be trusted either, so if a coffee person with a paper cup of coffee sends you to their “best coffee place in the world ” .…don’t go.

The perfect coffee for me is a strong double espresso cortado in a small glass or proper ceramic cup with warm milk on the side. Or a small cappuccino with two shots of coffee .  Milk should be boiled and NOT STEAMED. Steamed milk is just a bunch of bubbles that sits on your brew, disgusting .  Milk ideally should be FRESH milk , whole.  Fresh milk is not homogenized long conservation milk. Fresh milk is the one made by cows in the morning and served within a couple of days , with all its fat and taste and smells and texture . Homogenized fat free or skinny  long conservation milk does not make a good coffee, it just waters it down . Coffee should be served in a glass ideally , like they do in Spain , the Caribbean ,and Central and South America. When coffee is served in a glass you can see how much coffee is in there and what the ratio milk to coffee is, and you can also see if the milk is too watery . You cannot cheat when you serve coffee in a glass , no surprises.

Many coffee places burn their coffee grains and subsequently their coffee is too bitter i.e. Starbucks . I mean come on ….large caramel macchiato in the morning ?   it is a heresy , it is like saying that a banana sunday with wiped cream is a coffee , gimme a break.  “Americano ” coffee, or drip coffee is also a heresy  , hot water with some coffee extract. And believe it or not , that weak excuse of a coffee : drip coffee , contains much more caffeine that an espresso !

(Starbucks makes the worse coffee in the world but I must give them credit for bringing normal coffee to America. I just wish they stayed in America and stop opening shops all over the world . Tragic.)

In Madrid I had the best coffee place right under my home, Cafe La Esperanza, where el Señor Tito and Señor Miguel served coffee for 45 years until they retired in september . The whole barrio is devastated . The fresh milk was delivered every day in plastic bags from Asturias in the North of Spain, their coffee machine was 20 years old and their grains were from an old family -run brand . Their coffees were served in Duralex glasses like they should be and cost  1 euro 20 cents. With your coffee you got a small glass of water, room temperature , the real deal. With every cup they served me they would say  : esto resucita un muerto , aka ” this should resuscitate the dead ” . I now go to Pascual’s down the calle Bailén, very good strong coffee and convivial family-run place.  Also Madrid’s tap water is excellent so that helps a lot . In Andalucia I have fabulous café con leche en un vaso at the Ké Cafeteria in the Puerto Sotogrande.

Sick of paying 4 euros for tasteless coffee in Paris , I bought a Nespresso machine, the smallest and cheapest one , and I now have stopped going out for coffee in the morning , which is a sad thing because that first contact with the world, standing at the bar with your newspaper drinking your warm drug of choice , is priceless. Nespresso also makes a brilliant little milk machine called a Milk Frother which gives you warm frothy ( not foamy, major difference ) milk in 30 seconds. It is genius !

In Paris it is near impossible to get good coffee. Remember all those french films where families gather for breakfast around a big pile of croissants and steaming BOWLS of coffee ? Ok so a steaming bowl of milky coffee is what they are known for , normally used for dunking your croissants and pieces of baguettes ( the French dunk everything  , that is why they have such nice bread )  , a steaming huge bowl of hot milk with a teaspoon of coffee or chicory , is like Nesquik , it is not a coffee, it is a nourishing hot  liquid where you throw stuff in. I do not know any other country that serves coffee in a big bowl. Do you ?

After years of clients complaining at the Cafe De Flore , they finally got a proper machine and started serving strong espressos . They serve it with a little glass of water , they way it is served in real coffee loving places. That is so far the only place in Paris where I will drink coffee and pay the price , with an exception for the coffee shop at the concept shop The Broken Arm , in the Marais, where their coffee is, I must admit, very good.

I have tried all the healthy places known for their breads and cakes like Bread and Roses, Rose Bakery and Le Pain Quotidien, but their coffees are not good, too milky. At the well-known cafes and brasseries in my neighborhood, i.e. La Palette, le Varenne, Le Rouquet ….not good coffee, watery and milky.

In New York we like  Cafe Gitane , on Mott Street, and La Colombe on Lafayette between Prince & Houston , right by Supreme. And Third Rail coffee which is on 240 Sullivan street ( thank you Nicole,Ryan and Charlie )

Balthasar makes terrible coffee, great breads and breakfasts though.

In Rome I recommend Il Baretto on Via del Babuino which is one block off Piazza di Spagna and Bar Della Pace on Via della Pace 2 blocks off piazza Navona. Both places serve your cup with the small glass of water on the side ( not a bucket of iced water with ice cubes like in America ). My roman friend Maria Cristina said that Cafe Sant’Eustachio  Piazza di Sant’Eustachio is the best in Rome.

In Miami I recommend  Puerto Sagua on Collin’s avenue , for the real cafe con leche or cortao , in a glass , as well as the 24-hour cafeteria at the Raleigh Hotel on South Beach. The ladies there make a killer cortado.

In Los Angeles I recommend Coffee Commissary on Fairfax avenue, Huckleberries on Wilshire Bld ,in Santa Monica , and Joan’s On Third  ( Third street between La Cienega and Fairfax ) and G&B Coffee at Grand Central Market downtown . I do not like the coffee at Urth , too milky and watery.

If in doubt , a good indicator for a decent cup of coffee is wherever they serve Illy coffee.

ok , gotta go now…..to drink some coffee.

6 responses to “Coffee please !”

  1. MRoss says:

    love a great coffee… however I only disagree with the glass cups… for some reason I just can’t stand them… they change the flavor or temp or something… other than that — nice blog Maybe because I’ve usually had bad lukewarm coffee in them… hmmm…

    • fashionsphinx. says:

      it takes some getting used to that is for sure , and it is an acquired taste…I even prefer to hold the scalding glass with my thumb and index , of course if the barista has not filled it to the brim , there should always be a space so you can hold it with two fingers….I prefer that to holding a cup handle with three fingers….weird habits , yup !

  2. sylvia says:

    Fashion Sphinx, I can’t believe it!! you forgot “Cafeteria Ke” in Sotogrande. Those fabulous big glasses you have every morning when you are down here… those smiling waiters who give you just the right amount of conversation… nice, friendly place.

  3. Cristina says:

    Your blog is fab fashionsphynx!!!
    Who else can talk about a cup of coffee like this?
    Maybe only Toto’.
    Thank you

    • fashionsphinx says:

      Hahhahhahhahahhahah thank you ! who else can obsess so much about the perfect cup of coffee ?