East of Paris Bookstore

Wednesday, January 19, 2011


                                                                               While I love samovars, I find I drink more coffee than tea.   

It takes time to drink the coffee from Starbucks because it’s hot and there’s so much of it. It also takes a lot of time to drink the tiny cups of coffee served in the Mediterranean world because it’s hot and unfiltered. 

At Starbucks you sit absent mindedly sipping your upside down half-caf soy latte extra hot with two pumps of caramel while using the free wi-fi to check stock market quotes and send texts.
In Belgrade, Bodrum, or Beirut, you sit with friends debating politics while waiting for the coffee grounds to settle, slowly sipping the foam from the top of the cup, considering whether to have [another] cigarette, and then, when finished, flipping the cup upside down and someone reads the grounds and tells your fortune so you can text your friends about it.

I like both the Starbucks [plain filtered] and the Mediterranean varieties of coffee. I also like the various pots, grinders, and demitasse cups that come with the latter … 

At the Four Seasons in Damascus

Disclaimer: I am using the euphemism of Mediterranean, because every ethnic group in an around the Med and the Black Sea claims the coffee as “theirs.” While here in the US, we might say, Turkish-coffee or Greek-coffee or [pick your own group]-coffee, there [pick the country] it’s just “coffee.” Once in a restaurant, when I asked what kind of coffee they were serving, the waiter looked at me blankly and said “normal.” The differences are whether you take it bitter, sweet, or cloyingly ultra-sweet. Sometimes a spice like cardamom or cinnamon is added during the cooking process, not shaken on later à la Starbucks self service counter.

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