Saturday, April 11, 2009

I like coffee (but only one way).

Dad's present

I'm not much of a coffee drinker. In third grade (when I tried it for the first time I can remember - with coffee cake, as part of some holiday lesson about Santa Lucia) I thought it was disgusting (I did find I like coffee cake, though). In college, when everyone went out to coffee houses at night to study or talk, I would only drink hazelnut coffee with plenty of milk and sugar. Then, after a few years of infrequent drinking, I found that coffee in the evening made my heart pound and race so much that I couldn't sleep. I quit drinking the stuff. Not hard to do, since I've always preferred milk (or lemonade, or water, or...).

In my working life, I've found myself proud that I'm not dependent on coffee. I'm not someone who has to have it to wake up in the morning or get through a dull afternoon. And I still think that black coffee, while I can sometimes appreciate the smell, tastes pretty nasty.

When my father traveled to Vietnam, he wrote to me about the way many Vietnamese serve coffee -- iced or hot, with a thin layer of sweetened condensed milk at the bottom of the cup. That didn't sound so bad, so I sought the drink out in NYC, trying it iced in two restaurants within as many weeks. And I liked it. But I hadn't had it anywhere I could watch it brewing into a clear cup, as my dad had abroad. And so I started thinking about buying a couple of cheap Vietnamese coffee filter sets so that I could make it at home and get the whole experience on demand.

Then, Dad sent me a care package of coffee and candy he brought back from Vietnam. With it, a surprise -- Vietnamese coffee filters and two small glass cups in which to make the coffee. I haven't tried the candies yet, but I did have a night of Vietnamese coffee last week.

Some trial and error was necessary. A little mess was made. Cross-referencing websites like this one helped me decide to use two teaspoons of grounds per filter. This turned out to be a good amount of coffee for the size of the cup, especially when balanced against a layer of sweetened, condensed milk I poured in before brewing. I was not prepared for the glass cups being slightly too small for the amount of water that can be poured into the filters, however. Nor for some of the grounds to make it through the holes in the filter.

Still, we enjoyed the coffee -- strong, but sweet as a dessert. This is officially the only way I like coffee, for now. And the cheap filters are a great addition to my coffee maker-less kitchen.

Round 1

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