Coffee making and drinking is not just a personal, it's cultural. Explore different coffee cultures around the world. Check out the background history and how to replicate the coffee drink in your own home!
Regarding the (not very) French Press
There remains a coffee-stained controversy surrounding the French press over one hundred and fifty years after its initial conception by the French. Throughout its history there have been more questions raised than definitive answers regarding this deceptively simple coffee making device. For example, coffee drinkers the world over have wondered what to call it. Is it a French press, a coffee press, a press pot, coffee plunger or cafetiere? Is it French or is it Italian? Then there is the more metaphysical problem: do you actually enjoy the coffee produced by it? These are all questions to consider...over multiple cups of coffee with friends of course.
In the Beginning, There Was Coffee
The French and Italians argue over the creation of the French press and hence the bragging rights. Patent documents show there was a nascent design in 1852 by two Frenchmen: Mayer and Delforge. However, the plunger manufactured from their patent did not rest firmly against the interior walls of the carafe. This meant the resulting brew was no more technical or patent-worthy in my opinion than cowboy coffee made in the Old West. Not many people appreciate gritty coffee and so enter the next (and in the my opinion) true working version of the French press patented by Italians Attilio Calimani and Giulio Moneta, in 1929. This patent added the flexible spring or rubber around the edge of the plunger to create the seal that keeps spent grounds below and brewed coffee above. In other words, Italians made the French idea a tasty reality. The iconic outline of today is not too far removed from the original prototype though.
The battle goes on: Tea vs. Coffee
When it comes to great rivalries there are few that can top tea vs. coffee. When trying to work out which is better there are a few things to take into account.
Whether you’re comparing a builder’s brew with instant coffee, or the taste that you get from the finest coffee beans with top-class tea leaves, everyone has a preference when it comes to the flavour of tea and coffee. Tea lovers can choose between varieties such as Earl Grey, lapsang souchong, and jasmine tea, while those that prefer coffee can add syrups to their beverage for a different flavour.
The Challenging & Promising Road Ahead
Walking the winding bustling streets of the Thamel in Kathmandu, you can easily spot any number of coffee shops offering the familiar variety of espresso drinks such as cappuccinos, lattes, macchiatos, and mochas. With all the tourists walking around, and the many restaurants with cuisines from around the world, this tiny but crowded part of the city, gives off a whirlwind energy of movement, excitement, and also the sense that a café culture is really starting to take off here. There are all kinds of coffee shops, mostly offering Illy or Lavazza coffee, and with their free Wifi signs, they easily draw in a number of tourists with their laptops, smartphones, and iPads. Yet, in the midst of all this development and excitement, it is difficult to find the few cafes promoting local Nepali coffee and I became curious. Where can I find locally grown and produced coffee? How does Nepali coffee taste? Where is the local coffee industry headed?
Vietnam is often lauded for its coffee, which is strong, thick, and oftentimes over-the-top sweet. Sitting at local café’s – from Saigon to Hanoi – you can’t miss the unique way coffee is brewed in Vietnam (through the Phin filter). But, the lesser known, “Egg with Coffee” can be found on menus in hidden coffee shop gems. The option could also be found next to the likes of “Yogurt with Milk,” but trying the Egg with Coffee is really worth the risk and thrill!