Constantly Craving Caffeine

I love coffee, I love tea,
I love the java jive and it loves me,
Coffee and tea
And the jiving and me
a cup, a cup, a cup, a cup of coffee!

I know I’m unwell when I go off coffee. Luckily, it doesn’t happen very often. My (almost) lifelong love of the Coffea berry flavour dates back as far as I can remember. Not that we ever had any “real” coffee in the house when I was small, as it was wartime. In fact, the German word “ersatz” referred in English specifically to the evil-tasting substitute available in those days.

No, what we had was in a distinctive tall, square bottle with a picture I loved, of two men in skirts, a Scot and a Sikh. Very politically incorrect nowadays, as the Scotsman was seated and the Sikh, obviously a servant, was holding a tray with a coffee pot and bottle. Protests from race equality groups forced the makers to change the label (though not until in 2006), so it now shows the Sikh and the Gordon Highlander sitting together companionably sipping their brew.camp20coffee20then20now

Camp is a sludgy mixture of water, sugar, chicory essence and 4% coffee, still sold in supermarkets and – I believe – mainly used as a flavouring for coffee cakes and iced “coffee”.  I haven’t tasted it since around 1955 so won’t pass judgement here. I don’t want to spoil my memories. As a little girl, however, I loved a cup of hot milk with a  spoonful of Camp. Tea didn’t even figure in my list of preferred beverages.

In my teens, coffee became the ‘in’ drink. Iced coffee was then the suave thing to drink. Coffee bars suddenly sprang up all over the country, and we even had two in our town: the Zocco Chico and the Casa Bamboo, a haunt of Robert Plant (of Led Zeppelin) in his anonymous undiscovered days. Had I stayed at home I might be able to boast of hobnobbing with a number of our local lads who made it in the world of rock!  However, I went off to university in Liverpool and now I can only boast of having danced to the music of the Beatles at Saturday night Uni hops, before they burst onto the world scene. Always a little too early!

aix

Cafés along the Cours Mirabeau, Aix-en-Provence, France.

In our hall of residence at university, we were allowed a small tin of Nescafe once a month, which didn’t go very far. Luckily, I had a boyfriend whose father owned a general store, so he kindly supplied me with a catering-size tin at the beginning of each term. The Student Union also had a coffee bar in its basement. Coffee bars had sophisticated espresso equipment that converted real coffee beans into black liquid gold. Sophisticated is what we all wanted to be, so of course we scorned milk or cream and drank our coffee “pure”, though it needed sugar to make it palatable for us. (Those would-be sophisticates who drank tea also scorned milk, and took their tea with lemon, known as Russian tea.)

When I went to France I discovered a whole new world of food, including coffee made with a percolator. French coffee tasted totally different from any I had had in England and I went overboard for it. Café au lait for breakfast, in a cereal-sized bol and small cups of concentrated black coffee after lunch and dinner. We students sat in our café-brasserie where the coffee came in dark green, gilt-edged cups. The saucers were piled up as the cups were replenished, so the waiter knew exactly how many we had drunk.

Then I moved to Germany, where coffee culture was entirely different. The degree of roasting, as well as the origin of the coffee beans, affects the taste and the Germans liked their coffee less robust than the French or Italians. Having become accustomed to French tastes, I experienced some difficulty in the beginning in getting both my salad dressing and my coffee to an acceptable degree of what I considered unpalatability for my new in-laws, who declared my coffee to be “Muckefuck”, a term I found extremely discomfiting. It was here that I learned to make filter coffee, by simply pouring hot water over ground coffee in a paper-lined plastic filter placed on the coffee pot. At that time, it was also customary in Germany to add evaporated milk rather than plain milk or cream. This was an acquired taste, but I eventually adapted. The caffeine was what mattered!

By the time I went to live in Switzerland ten years later, the filter method had evolved and electric coffee percolators were popular. Switzerland was sufficiently civilised to offer cream rather than evaporated milk, often in little chocolate “tubs”. An interesting aspect of Switzerland is that it is coloured by the culture of whichever country adjoins it, so in the French-speaking region there is a strong French influence on the coffee, in the Ticino the coffee tastes Italian and in the German-speaking rest you find a huge variety of flavours.DIGITAL CAMERA

Over the years, as I have gradually moved eastwards from the Rhône to the Rhine, my coffee-making methods have also changed. I have never wanted an expensive machine that produces every variation under the sun (though my ex-husband bought me one for Christmas one year, much to my disgust; he was simply indulging his love of gadgets.).

I now find that filter coffee makes me burp, so I use either a French press (which the English confusingly call a cafetière) or my trusty little Italian espresso-maker that sits on the hob making enticing noises. That produces great espresso, which can turn into delicious latte macchiato or cappuccino – a more grown-up version of milk coffee than the Camp drink of my childhood.

I love coffee, I love tea
I love the java jive and it loves me
Coffee and tea and the jiving and me
A cup, a cup, a cup, a cup, a cup!
I love java, sweet and hot
Whoops! Mr. Moto, I’m a coffee pot
Shoot me the pot and I’ll pour me a shot
A cup, a cup, a cup, a cup, a cup!
Oh, slip me a slug from the wonderful mug
And I cut a rug till I’m snug in a jug
A slice of onion and a raw one, draw one.

 Waiter, waiter, percolator!
I love coffee, I love tea
I love the java jive and it loves me
Coffee and tea and the jiving and me
A cup, a cup, a cup, a cup, a cup!
Boston bean, soy bean
Lima bean, string bean.
You know that I’m not keen for a bean
Unless it is a cheery coffee bean.

I love coffee, I love tea
I love the java jive and it loves me
Coffee and tea and the jiving and me
A cup, a cup, a cup, a cup, a cup!
I love java, sweet and hot
Whoops! Mr. Moto, I’m a coffee pot
Shoot me the pot and I’ll pour me a shot
A cup, a cup, a cup, a cup, a cup!
Oh, slip me a slug from the wonderful mug
And I cut a rug till I’m snug in a jug
Drop me a nickel in my pot, Joe, Taking it slow.

Waiter, waiter, percolator!
I love coffee, I love tea
I love the java jive and it loves me
Coffee and tea and the jiving and me
A cup, a cup, a cup, a cup, a cup

Advertisements

8 thoughts on “Constantly Craving Caffeine

  1. I think you must have used up all the coffee genes with your fondness for it, as none of us are very coffee-orientated!!! LOL (obviously the married-in men are…!)

  2. Wie schön für dich, dass wenigstens die Schweizer zivilisiert genug für Sahne statt Dosenmilch waren…

      • Peter loves Dosenmilch, I find the taste revolting! I rather have my coffee black than with Dosenmilch.
        I remember “Muckefuck”. For me this was just about the worst drink. I was happy when I was given weak tea rather than “Muckefuck”. I very much liked the way the French drank their coffee, different according to what time of day it was. When we lived with my father he introduced us to strong tea the way Russians drink it. We thought this tasted very much better than the weak tea which Germans usually have with their Abendbrot.
        In Australia we got used to instant coffee. Nowadays we have instant coffee only in the morning, filtered coffee or espresso in the afternoon. Other than that we drink only tea.
        I love this song about coffee. I just listened to it. It really cheered me up. T.Y. 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s