#ban-americano #Starbucks #espresso #greek-coffee
When I am in Greece I love having Greek coffee. The aroma of the freshly scissored paper bag the coffee was in can still be tasted in your cup of double medium. This is a staple food for Greeks, who usually include it as part of their light breakfast, which often includes Greek yoghurt with honey and walnuts. The “barrista”, in this case anyone who can make a cup of comfort food coffee, serves you the coffee with the remainders in the traditional tin “flijani” it was heated and brewed in. There’s a rich history behind this coffee; even a fight over whether it should be called Greek or Turkish coffee. The Ottomans took it as theirs and almost all their foreign colonies, like the Balkans, call it Turkish coffee. I call it Greek coffee without having looked up its history. Just ask my friends how much I insist they call it Greek.
Then there’s my all-time favourite brew — the double espresso long in my case. This is espresso in 2 shots with a bit more water. I break Italian tradition by taking not with just one, but with two sugars. My OCD usually forces me to have one Stevia and one regular sugar. The Stevia beats the purpose in its bitter aftertaste, but it cuts the unhealthy sugar level by half. I just had my double dose as I write this, and I’m ready to conquer the day. This coffee is not easy to get right. You need extraordinary beans and experience. The major difference between a good and bad espresso is in the type of bean used. I haven’t been to an Italian establishment, here and abroad, when the espresso hasn’t been exemplary. Like the Greeks, it’s a cultural sense of pride.
Then there’s the Americano. So many “hipsters”, in an effort to be cool, trendy, and creative, have opted to destroy and tear apart the essence of the espresso. They fix the espresso and just add water until it looks like a run-of-the-mill Tim Hortons or Dunkin Donuts coffee. It is a bastardized marriage of perculated meets a dollop of cheap espresso. The resulting taste is water with some coffee in there somewhere. Unsubstantiated rumour has it that this started off in WW2, when the British army had to ration their coffee, so they just topped what little they had with water. While the British army can be excused, you can’t. You cannot tell me you like drinking bitter hot water. If you are, you probably just have coffee to be cool.
It probably also means you’re a big fan of Starbucks. Starbucks has been “reinventing” coffee. Don’t get me wrong, I actually enjoy the Starbucks market niche. It was all the rave back in the day to buy a book and have a coffee and WiFi all under the same roof; like buying a subpar computer table and having Swedish meatballs. But why doesn’t Starbucks serve traditional fair as it should be served? Why do they not understand a real coffee drinker’s needs. Simple. Real coffee drinkers don’t go to Starbucks. The allure has faded for me and their sole primary target now is people who just want to seem trendy or cool. These are people who have no idea what a real coffee is. They just think there’s coffeemakers and Starbucks. They buy expensive machines making mediocre coffee.
Coffee is not a fad. It’s a cultural activity that needs to be savored and enjoyed. For this reason, we need to empower these Starbucks worshippers to demand their espresso and their Greek. They need to be forced to learn the difference between hype and reality. Next time you see a hipster, take them to the heart of little Italy and blackmail them into trying the espresso. You’d have done them a big service at the end and Starbucks would be on its way to being extinct.
One can only hope!
To be used with the explicit consent of Ted Kouretas