I adore coffee in so many ways. Black, black with cream, black with cream and sugar, or doused with sweetened condensed milk – they’re all good. Filtered coffee, espressos and instant (yes, instant) all have equal status. If I’m asked how I take my coffee, the response would really depend on the context and company. For example, if it’s a polite cup at a performance review with the boss, it would definitely be black. First off, it’s only out of courtesy that she is offering a cup of joe (imagine how much time she’d have to spend concocting cups otherwise), and second, I don’t really want to have to get into numbering my creams and sugars and faffing around with packets of sugar and stir sticks. At stranger-encounters, such as job interviews, its safest to stick to black as describing your preferences leads others to conclude too much about you. (Five sugars? Sick-leave liability alert ...) I have been told that my preference for black coffee leaves the impression of being very tough (even “manly”), or a real coffee aficionado. Neither of which is particularly true, I think …
What I stay clear of: black coffee with sugar, and cappuccinos. On the latter, there’s just way too much milk going on. I should start a business fortune-telling in milk foam. In NL, popular coffees are “koffie verkeerd”( a very milky, filtered coffee) and “latte macchiato” (but you are best off asking the coffee-rista what their version comprises as a macchiato in NL is like “prego”, it can mean anything.
It’s impossible to complain about the quality of coffee in NL. I swear by Douwe Egberts Instant Coffee, regular and hazel-tinged (it’s not artificial nor overpowering like some other versions I’ve tasted). Cafes, hair salons, boutiques, even Vodafone, all serve up awesome little cups of espresso. Ah, but therein lies the slight problem. The cups are so very little. How am I supposed to expect one tiny coffee to last an average social meet-up of 1.5 hours? There is however, a saving grace – it is customary in NL for cafes to serve you a tiny piece of cake, cookie, or chocolate with your coffee. A café needs to take pride in their sidebar offerings, just like the French and their bread baskets. Douwe Egberts on Noordeinde (recently departed) used to allow customers to pillage their unguarded stacks of mini chocolate bars.
As for coffee machines, I’m still on the hunt for the perfect one. I have sworn off Nespresso. Despite being a dolled-up, yet economical alternative to the juggernauts on the market, the taste of the capsules are quite inferior and the coffee comes out tepid. Worse, they have totally ridiculed George Clooney and womankind alike in their silly, screechy ads.