On How to Make an Espresso Last Two Hours.

This post is Part II in Foodie Abroad’s articles on the role and place of coffee in France.  Also check out her other articles on fair trade, decaf an ethics of the bean.

Coffee is very social activity in France. It plays a fundamental role in social relations as well as in the workplace. Networking and office gossip revolves around the coffee machine, so much so that there is a popular daily TV comedy programme (Caméra Café) that is based on just that idea. Unfortunately, despite two years of living in France, the humour is lost on me. Apparently, the programme resonates well with other viewers because it has been adapted and remade in almost 20 countries. You can read more about it here:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cam%C3%A9ra_Caf%C3%A9.

When questioned about coffee culture in France, my friends all had similar stories. One French journalist friend explained:

 ”I started drinking coffee at university. Not because I liked it, but because everything else was more expensive when we were all going to the”bistro”. Instead of going to classes we would rather go to the café, order one espresso each with a glass of water, and stay there as long as we could. We just needed a place to stay and since you had to order something, we just ordered coffee.”

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Foodie Abroad: En Paris

This week Foodie Abroad has travelled from her usual home in Barcelona to the refined comforts of Paris.  Today’s article is about ordering your favorite coffee drinks in an unfamiliar city.

Part one: the basics

So you’ve made it to France and you are craving some terrace time at a local café. Here are your options:

Café: this is what most of us would consider to be an espresso, but in France it constitute a “café normale” (café normal). To avoid confusion, you can order an “express”. To clarify, the confusion is that if a waiter suspects a foreign accent, they are likely to second guess your choice and confirm that you are not expecting an “American-style coffee”.

Café Décafféiné (déca): decaf…. But you will have to specific how you want your decaf prepared.

If you are looking for something closer to home…

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It’s Fair Trade? Great! But… uhh, what does that mean?

This article is posted by Foodie Abroad. Check out her other articles on Decaf and the Ethics of the Bean.

When it comes to buying coffee, the options seem endless. So how do you choose?  Many opt for price and/or efficiency (read: instant … gasp). Others will seek out a specific bean type. Many will choose beans from a specific roaster and others still will just pick the bag that pleases them, for what ever reason, be it aesthetics or witty brew names.

I must admit that I select my coffee based on roast, but if a pretty bag catches my eye or intrigues me with its naming, I’m likely to switch teams. One thing I always try to look for when buying my coffee is that it is third-party certified fair trade. I am not necessarily convinced that fair trade is the solution to the myriad labour, environment and distribution problems that plague coffee farming, but in the short term it seems like a step in the right direction.

Many readers of this blog may be concerned about finding a good, strong, quality cup of coffee, and perhaps are not interested in issues related to fair trade. But hear me out, because there is a very good argument to be made about a correlation between quality and fair trade. If your producers are living healthier and more profitable lives thanks to higher wages, they will be able to produce better coffee. I mean, when I am paid a living wage, the quality of my work improves, and the same logic applies to coffee production.

Continue reading It’s Fair Trade? Great! But… uhh, what does that mean?

Breaking the Habit: A Caffeine Recession, Self Imposed Part II

This article is Part II of Foodie Abroad’s look at decaf.  For Part I see here.

In January, I caught a terrible cold that left me wallowing in bed for several days. During this time, I did not drink any coffee. Caffeine addiction defeated, I make a decision not to go back. This time for real, but the coffee habit remains and I have opted for decaf.

People, especially coffee drinkers, tend to have strong feelings towards decaf. “What’s the point?” they ask. The point is that I drink coffee not as a necessity but rather because it is delicious. “Decaf always tastes bad” they declare. Well, fear not decafaphobes, there are some decaf beans on the market that are smooth and delectable. But given the high level of processing necessary to get rid of the caffeine, taste and quality are often compromised. There is research underway into the development of lower caffeine beans and the promotion of a low-caffeine strain. Also, I should note that a US National Institutes of Health study found that drinking decaf may increase cholesterol.

This is an article for decafaphobes and caffeine lovers alike, it is a brief study of the bean and the brew.

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Breaking the Habit: A Caffeine Recession, Self Imposed

Here at Manhattan Roasts we have our taste buds spread across the globe.  While we are committed to bringing you almost daily updates of the coffee scene in Manhattan, we don’t want to limit ourselves to information exciting only for those in this great city.  In that vein we will feature guest authors who will bring you up to speed on the coffee scene around the world.

Today’s article comes from “Foodie Abroad”, a self described food-a-holic currently residing in Barcelona.  However, unlike most self-described foodies, she actually has multiple degrees in the area to prove it.  With that said, we give you:

Breaking the habit: a caffeine recession, self imposed

I am a person who has a habit of getting into habits. However, usually I fall out of habits as easily as I fall into them. Predisposed as I am to generalisations, I will suggest that these routines tend to revolve around food and the morning. Last year, for example, I would only eat oatmeal with ground flax seeds for breakfast, then it was plain yogurt with a diced Granny Smith apple, muesli and honey.

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