Looking for espresso along Ibn Gvirol Street in Tel Aviv? The online version of the Haaretz English Edition reviewed eight branches of large coffee chains (including The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf) — with a bizarre emphasis on how quickly they can shuffle you out the door with a paper cup (blech!) of gourmet coffee in hand: Haaretz – Israel News – A long Mochaccino Fredo Grande, please.
Granted, America’s only familiarity with Israeli cafés typically involves gruesome TV footage of suicide bomber attacks. But gross American media distortions aside, there truly is no excuse to wolf down gourmet coffee on the run and to use that as the foundation for quality judgements. The moment we measure anything we ingest into our bodies with a stopwatch is the moment we’ve surrendered any enjoyment of it over to pure biological necessity.
The article mentions how coffee consumption in Israeli society has transformed from instant powdered coffee to gourmet coffee-to-go — not recognizing the irony of a society that preferred instant coffee in more leisurely, coffee-sipping times. “Our relationship with the coffee shop we have chosen is expected to be short and effective,” says the article’s author, Nofar Sinai. And yet the fast food lifestyle invariably begets fast food quality.
My wife, a complete foodie (and a great chef at that), recently became a member of Slow Food. It is a great worldwide organization (dare I even say: “movement”?) of people with like-minded interests to promote food and wine culture and defend it from the forces of fast food homogenization and blandness. I believe the very same ethics apply to the enjoyment of good coffee or a good espresso.
My wife also fully believes that we are all making ourselves sick as a society — with a host of new illnesses and diseases — because we’ve become so disconnected from the things we put into our bodies and any enjoyment we derive from them. Though I can’t say that coffee-to-go is contributing to the world’s childhood obesity epidemic, I can say that consuming coffee like a NASCAR driver at a pit stop is a wholly regressive step towards the enjoyment of good coffee. It’s been forty years since powdered Tang® was considered the pinnacle of human gastronimic achievement, and there is no good reason we should go back — even if it costs us two whole extra minutes out of the day.
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