With all of the things that life chooses to throw at us, it is important to have small treats that make us happy – if even only for a short time. I know people who enjoy a tipple with a nice Sav Blanc or a good quality beer. Some people love a particular tea blend served up in fine china. Mine is the perfect flat white coffee.
My perfect flat white is made with real cow’s milk (none of that soy, almond, rice milk claptrap – give me cow juice every time). It is hot but not boiling. 55 – 60 degrees. I do not want the sour taste of boiled milk or have to need asbestos lips to drink it. The milk has a creamy, but not frothy texture, and the creaminess remains right down to the bottom of the cup. The crema should float in a half inch slick on the top, and if performed by a master barista, will have a smart little artistic swirl. The coffee should be consumed in peace and quiet in a nice little cafe, with a good friend, or accompanied by a good book, and a little bit of people watching.
Why is it that there are so many ghastly coffees around? The ones which are pale and bitter or insipid imitations of the real thing. The milk is over boiled and is frothy and thin. The coffee liquid texture is thin, bitter and meagre, and usually scalding hot (a no no for perfect coffee). There is often a huge dollop of unneeded and very 1980’s froth which floats on this vile liquid. My heart sinks.
There is no crema swirl, the anticipation is sorely ruined by the first taste. Over burned, bitter, thin and disappointing – a bit like some people I know (not including myself of course). With my sunken heart, I usually sit and scull (or sip if it is piping hot) this bitter brew as it has usually cost me my daily coffee allowance. I have few treats, so this little ritual of mine must be consistent. It is always with a heavy heart that I pay for this offending brew, and often I wish I had the moral strength to just say “your coffee is crap!” But I don’t – coward that I am. Unless they ask, “how was your coffee?” and then I might tell them.
Often people have places of great spiritual meaning to them – like a place of worship or spiritual rejuvenation or contemplation. Thus I come to the great barista god, like a needy acolyte looking for heaven. My heaven is always a really good cafe – usually if they are funky and the staff wear black it is a good indication that I am on the right track. Also, a surreptitious glance at the other customer’s coffees can be a good indication whether this should be a fight or flight situation. And, believe it or not, my sister is even worse.
She has been known to go behind the counter and look at the machine, and if the beans are from one of the “Roberts” (Harris or Timms) then her scorn is complete. She and I, we know our coffee labels. On a sortie into any new city, finding a good cafe is like finding nirvana in a sea of mediocrity. This cafe will become your haven which you return to like a ship to a lighthouse for nurturing and caffeine stimulation. Life is too short for a bad coffee. With so much uncertainty in this world, $4.00 for a perfect flat white is not too much to pay for temporary bliss.
What is your beverage of choice?
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