When I think of my love for coffee I think back to my early youth, when my late grandmother would make her famous Café Au Lait. This typically included a perfectly decorated Demi (Demitasse) tea cup filled with a lot of cream, sugar and just a splash of coffee.
Hence the phrase, “Would you like some coffee with your sugar?”
It always amazes people when I tell them that my grandmother would give me coffee when I was as young as 4 years old. But this is pretty common in New Orleans’ black and Creole culture.
My first REAL job was at a local coffee chain in my hometown, PJ’s Coffee.
At that time in my life, you could not get me to take one sip of coffee. I literally hated the smell of it. During those years of late high school and early college, I wasn’t really into any of the indulgences I partake in now. Oddly enough, if you know me now, you would think that coffee was a part of my DNA.
Before moving to Europe, black coffee was my beverage of choice. But now, the idea of drinking black coffee has become a bit of an issue. Though I must say that I feel a lot more prepared than I thought, being from a city where strong coffee is coffee.
But in Europe, the idea of coffee is an art form, a life style. One that is similar to the coffee culture I am familiar with, but there are a few differences.
COFFEE OR ESPRESSO?
Being a black coffee drinking kind of girl. I have a little bit of trouble when it comes to ordering coffee in Europe. Let’s just say, when you order a regular dark coffee here, you will be served a shot of espresso. Yes, you heard me correctly. Get used to that bitter deliciousness known as espresso.
Order at your own risk.
Okay confession time. As a former Barista, I myself had no idea what an Americano entailed. I remember serving them in the U.S., I just don’t recall the ingredients. But, if you want an American styled watered down coffee, this is the closest thing that you will get. Keep in mind that an Americano here is just a shot of espresso mixed with warm water.
FANCY ME COFFEE
Last thing you need to know about coffee in Europe is, it is always fancy. Even at the cheap 2 dollar coffee kiosk in the train station. Like I said, coffee is an art form. Your cappuccino will always look perfect. And froth aka foam, is EVERYTHING!
New Orleans caffeinated history dates back about 200 years. During the 19th century, Free slaves of New Orleans began opening up small coffee stands and shops in and near the french market. It has been said that the idea of the “morning coffee break” stems from the traditional morning cup of coffee and socializing that was done in the French Quarter. The long standing and famed Cafe Du Monde opened in 1862 and continues to serve fresh beignets and chicory coffee.
The European influx of Chicory in New Orleans coffee made it so that the coffee was and still is much stronger than much of the other U.S. brews. Do to French tradition, it became common to dilute coffee with warm milk creating what is known as the Cafe Au Lait.
While it is no longer the biggest coffee port in the United States, approximately 30 percent of the today’s coffee comes into the U.S. through New Orleans. There are still several local coffee roasters along with a plethora of independently owned coffee shops for locals to indulge in….