Monday, January 21, 2008

Coffee Unplugged

Why I take no sugar in my coffee.
I have to say that most people don't look at me very strange if I ask for coffee in America and take it black. When I do the same abroad, I have looks of doubt and perplexity coming from my peers. I have an explanation of why I am that way, it's not a grand affair, but rather a cute story.

I served in the USMC for 4 years. During that time I was stationed in Naples Italy. It was late one night while standing my guard shift when the supervising Corporal of the Guard decided to make rounds with a thermos full of Italian espresso coffee.

He asked me if I wanted "Coffee?". I said "sure" not understanding what kind of coffee was about to flow into the small plastic cup placed before me. It was about to be the first espresso coffee I would enjoy in my host country and I was thinking the cup was a bit small.

Once he had provided what would be a double serving of espresso (since he wasn't going to make a second round) I asked in my naivety "Hey, don't the Italians take this stuff with a bunch of sugar?". His gaze seemed clearly distressed, it would seem that my question had sounded ungrateful. He replied quickly with "I'm no waiter, you going to drink it black or do I give it to someone else?". I recoiled, quickly apologized and consumed it as it was.

This became my indoctrination into drinking espresso and to this day, I cannot stand the taste of coffee with sugar in it. I now refer to the addition of sugar or milk products as "foo" adjective I usually reserve for describing things which I find girlish in nature.

As a result, my palette has become adjusted to this way of tasting coffee and I can easily discern between coffee which is "burnt", poor quality or just bad. I don't believe in "foo" for real men, but I don't disparage the ones who must take something in their coffee. I have a slightly different opinion of the flavored creamers as these produce a different taste, but would always prefer actual Irish Creme to any artificial creamer flavored in that way.

So everyone, please enjoy your coffee and maybe for the sake of quality test, try it "unplugged" if you aren't scared to discover that the coffee under all your "foo" is actually pretty bad. :)