Africa Diaries V: on coffee.

  • Eating: Chocolate before 10 a.m. Is that bad?
  • Listening to: Some mix tapes by Smoke Don’t Smoke.
  • Wearing: Grey harem pants, a grey long-sleeved tee, & a grey wool vest over my neon orange sweater. It’s a cozy kind of day.

Hello cheri!

Well, I haven’t been to any more cafés I could tell you about, but I did spend last night inflating my inner coffee snob with some technical training on the topic.

The church I’ve been attending here in Joburg has an obvious heart for community & tops off each service with time spent in fellowship over the froth of a thousand cappuccinos. But it’s no easy-breezy button-pushing espresso we’re talking here — their mammoth machine & the man who heads it up are all about perfection, & last night was a sort of re-training of the baristas, who kindly let me tag along. (As someone who has worked behind the counter of a button-pushing place, I christened myself a half-ignorant enthusiast & simply soaked it all in.)

Let me tell you, it was like barista boot camp. There were scales to insure the exact right amount of pressure was being applied to the grounds, thermometers for temperature & stopwatches for time. One by one, we were called from the couches to take our turn at a perfectly executed espresso, each step documented and displayed by a hand-held video camera connected to the television in the middle of our circle. Talk about laying on the pressure.

“See? She didn’t pack it correctly. That’s going to be sour.”

Then it was time to taste. Sip after sip of espresso went down our throats, swirled & swallowed to test the flavor on every bit of the tongue. We were knocking them like shots. (And yet somehow, I managed to fall asleep before morning. I think I’ve gotten immune to caffeine.)

We called it quits around 10, after four hours of diagrams, handouts & impassioned presentations. (Also included was dinner & dessert. I had my very first custard, & was feeling very British.)

And there you have it, cheri. I went from having a bachelor’s in coffee snobbery to earning a doctorate. The snobbery is almost out of control.

So, just to take myself down a few notches, here are three easy steps to a dumbed-down red latte, just for you.

Step 1: heat milk.

Step 2: insert rooibus tea bag & tiny spoonful of honey.

Step 3: drink daily.

And voila! Now you are an expert. Or me.