Strong Enough To Float a Horseshoe On

I wrote this post two days ago in response to Judy Dykstra-Brown’s Java  101 but didn’t post it then because loadshedding started. I was inspired by the topic – coffee! Click here for the post.

During my childhood years my folks didn’t have a coffee machine of any sort. They could’ve afforded one, I think that coffee just wasn’t that important. Mozambique, in those days, was more of a tea culture.

Whenever we had visitors, my Mom used to make special coffee. I remember my folk’s coffee cups were thick brown ceramic and I loved their beautiful boldness. I so wanted to play with those cups. My Mom placed a spoon of granules in each cup, and with a teaspoon of water made a paste with the coffee, beating it until it became light brown, almost a tan colour. She then added the rest of the water slowly, and a thick layer of foam formed on the top. Instant cappuccino. Much later, when I was allowed to drink coffee, I was surprised at the creaminess of this way of making coffee.

My folk’s friends had an espresso machine and everyone referred to coffee made in it as “café café” or “real coffee” to differentiate it from the instant variety which my folks had in the house. My Dad used to have his after lunch or dinner espresso with his friends and I often used to go with him to play on the swings with the other kids. It was strange to me that he chased his espresso down with a glass of water. I later realised that it’s a very European thing. The water helped the bitterness of the coffee dissipate, having a diluting action. At least that’s what it felt like to me when I tried it.

A few Christmases ago my brother bought my folks a Nespresso type machine. My six-year old nephew is the one that uses it the most, not for himself off course, but he loves tinkering with it and in the process make my Dad a cup of coffee. My Mom needs to clean up after him afterwards, you can imagine the mess he leaves behind :-).

I started drinking coffee in high school but it never was an important part of my life. It was a social thing. It was only much later, after I met my husband, Che, that I developed a taste for “real coffee”. His family were coffee aficionados, so no instant was to be found in their cupboards.

When we started dating we often dropped in at Café Bom Bom after movies or dinner for a cappuccino with cream and chocolate shavings on top. It was delicious even though I now prefer foam over whipped cream.

Che and I have become coffee snobs. Only the best varieties, and we love making our own blends. The day does not start until I have had my first cup of coffee. Anyone treads at their own peril around me until this first cup…I cannot be held responsible for my actions. Oh, and another thing, I prefer a cup – coffee in a mug does not taste the same. But a cardboard cup is ok.

The other day a neighbour came over to help us with our drains. Che made coffee like we always do, “real coffee” drip filter variety, and we were quite surprised when he said that it was too strong. So nice neighbours that we are, and for the first time in many years we bought some instant coffee for when he comes over.

I love my coffee strong enough to float a horseshoe on. But never as strong as “moer-koffie”, a typically South African way of making coffee, in an enamel coffee jug on the fire, no fancy drip filter – just “real coffee” grounds in water and boiled until the cows come home. With sugar and milk it is delicious – and strong enough to float two horseshoes on, cowboy coffee style, with dregs at the bottom of the cup.

On a more coffee-serious note, I can never be without coffee and to remove the risk of this happening whenever I travel, I include in my luggage my little espresso maker together with coffee grounds. All I need is some water and a source of heat and all is fine with the world.

Epilogue: The latest good news for coffee lovers in South Africa is that Starbucks is opening up over here! I’m excited but some of the purist coffee lovers aren’t. We do have great coffee here in SA after all. SA, like many other African countries is on the back-burner for certain product offerings, like Netflix. Until this year, whereupon it was announced that Netflix is coming to SA next year. So we have Netflix and Starbucks. Now all we need is 24 hour shopping.