Coffee in America

I could have finished this post in one word  – “horrible”. But for the sake of blogging and detailed description, let me sacrifice brevity, like I usually do. I’m writing this after having drunk a cup of absolutely atrocious self-made coffee. Yes, it is proper traditional filter coffee made using Coffee Day Ultra Rich powder, but somewhere I seem to have messed it up. And the quality of this coffee, the first time I’ve made the brew after returning from America, reflects the general quality of coffee they make in America!

I think I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of times I had good coffee. One was at a friend’s place in New Jersey, where I had traditional South Indian filter coffee out of a steel tumbler. Another was the Turkish coffee at The Hummus Place in Greenwich Village which I’ve talked about in my previous post. That is it! Maybe the odd capuccino somewhere but I can’t remember anything else specific.

The funny thing about America is the size of the coffee lOTas. The average coffee cup in my office was some 400 ml, and each time I would put it under the machine and ask for capuccino it would get filled up! It was extremely disorienting for someone like me who is used to several small doses of coffee during the day. There was another dispenser which dispensed decoction but that was horrible, too. But later on I started drinking from that since I could then control the volume of each dose!

I think I have mentioned this in some other post but another problem in America is they give you hot black coffee and COLD milk. Again extremely disorienting for someone who is used to coffee made with boiling milk. I’m told that the typical American puts such little milk in his coffee that the temperature of milk doesn’t matter. Just that I found it hard to digest (not literally).

Then there was this coffee maker in my apartment. I had to google to figure out how it worked and then realized that an essential part of making it work was to buy filter paper (the first time I’d come across this thing since high school chemistry lab). Since I didn’t have enthu to buy the said paper, I just made do with the two complimentary sheets that had been kindly provided in my apartment. Needless to say the coffee came out to be horrible and I didn’t use the machine again.

One of my regrets of my America trip is that I didn’t order coffee post my several Italian meals. Maybe the Italian restaurants would have made coffee much better than what was available in the rest of the country. And one of the amusing things i remember from the trip is the length of the queues at the Starbucks outlets! That made me realize that people actually go to Starbucks for coffee unlike us here who use Cafe Coffee Day as a convenient hangout location!

Yesterday I did my bit to make up for all the horrible coffee that I’d endured during my America trip. Had two awesome cups of filter coffee at a friend’s place, and then three doses of “sugarless strong” at three diffferent darshini-level places. Unfortunately this morning’s mess-up (now I realize I put 2 spoons of powder into the filter instead of the usual 4) has taken me back to square one, of American quality coffee.

9 thoughts on “Coffee in America”

  1. next time, go to oren’s coffee in NY. there’s one on waverly place, and about 5 more all over manhattan. and in california, go to peets.
    – solemnly sworn by the gods by an authentic, certified, raised-on-filter-coffee tamilian =)

  2. Hey Wimpy!

    Long time follower, first time commenter.

    I spent nearly three months in NY on a project and have always had trouble finding coffee that reconciles with the South Indian kaapi taste. A couple of general pointers:
    – Avoid French Roast (and Italian Roast to some extent), as they have a “burnt” taste that takes some getting used to. Go for the Colombian blend whenever possible.

    – Check which creamer you’re using; I’ve ended up using non-dairy soy based stuff sometimes when I was in a hurry and the result didn’t taste anything like coffee.

    – Also second the Oren’s suggestion: one of the few places where I really liked the coffee

  3. Agree about peet’s in California. Of the chains, Seattle’s best is probably the only one that has decent drinkable coffee. And if you’re here again for an extended trip, you must look for coffee with chicory (e.g. Cafe Du Monde’s coffee – they ship to all US states) – I find that approximates the filter coffee decoction taste a lot closer than anything else.

  4. The coffee in America are usually imported from different parts of the world.So I think the diversity is unbeatable.Starbucks is more of a fast food coffee type.Decent coffee but you should get lucky to taste something out of the ordinary.Indian Coffee to my experience is interplay of homegrown coffee & chicory and 3 major modes of preparation.Also the coffee in US is primarily consumed without milk quite unlike Indian coffee.There is one company called Philz who make amazing coffee provided you drink them with cream & sugar otherwise you need to have the taste buds of a coffee connoisseur.There are lots of coffee shops who make brilliant coffee but who need to hang out with someone who’s likely to be as interested in coffee tastes as you are.

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