Coffee Addiction

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Coffee Addiction

“It is inhumane, in my opinion, to force people who have a genuine medical need for coffee to wait in line behind people who apparently view it as some kind of recreational activity.” Dave Barry

I started drinking coffee at sixteen when I began dating. I ordered a cappuccino in an Italian restaurant after dinner. It kept me up all night but I didn’t care. I was doing something very grown up – like alcohol and weed. I was in the experimentation phase.

 It evolved into instant coffee in the morning. Instant coffee was everywhere. Coffee was not a culture yet. It was just one of two caffeinated hot drinks with free refills. 

When I was diet conscious in college for no reason, I drank black coffee with fake sugar.  I could not buy artificial sweetener because I was not allowed to eat food with chemicals. I grabbed handfuls when they brought it to the table and hid it in my house.You could always find some Sweet n Low in my pockets. 

After I got married and moved to LA, I became a serious coffee drinker.  My plan was to arise at 4 a.m. and take some whole beans out of an airtight but never refrigerated container and  roast each bean individually over a wood-burning fire. This never happened. Every morning I ground those beans by hand not with a mortar and pestle but an automatic coffee grinder. I used a French press, waited four minutes and poured the coffee. I was going to be the kind of wife that made perfect coffee.

Starbucks and Coffee Bean stores were showing up everywhere.  I was a regular coffee user by then. Barista became an American word. They are sometimes nice and  sometimes annoying. There is nothing I hate more than when they correct my order in their own special lingo. They do it in a condescending way as if they are enlightening me that the correct term is Venti. I don’t want whipped cream on a soy latte. I’m ordering soy because I don’t want dairy. I don’t like anyone perky talking to me before i have coffee. I don’t come to Starbucks for questions. I come for coffee. 

After years of Starbucks, I found out that there is extra caffeine in their coffee. It doesn’t matter because it is three pm. I have to pick up my children from school and drive them to their activities. I am sooo tired. The morning caffeine has worn off. Is there a faster way to consume it? Maybe bathing in it? My children learn that I have a coffee dependence. I know the location of every Starbucks and Coffee Bean on the way to all their after school activities. “I just need to stop and get coffee”, becomes a familiar phrase that they hear all their lives.

Years later the best part about going to bed is imagining the coffee I am going to drink in the morning. At midnight, I think – only seven more hours to go. It’s more important to my body than oxygen or my left kidney. It is definitely a full-blown addiction. 

The unthinkable happens. For health reasons, I had to give up my afternoon, decades long, extra-large sized cup of coffee. I forge a special bond with blinding headaches, nausea and not getting anything done. I want to murder everyone I see holding a paper  coffee cup. The dog was worried about me. 

Eventually the symptoms disappear. The matcha fills a bit of the void. I’m more hydrated because I drink more water. I sleep more and my stomach doesn’t hurt. I can probably do coffee soon but the withdrawal was so severe that I never want to experience it again. Sometimes I go in a great coffee shop just to smell it brewing. I can crack at any time. But also I can change. Who knew?

Fly safe,

JAZ

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Picking Coffee In Colombia

Picking Coffee In Colombia

“As long as there was coffee in the world, how bad could things be?” Cassandra Clare

Coffee is my most important meal of the day. In my life, morning is not possible without coffee. I am in the coffee triangle of Colombia – the Utopia for coffee drinkers. The coffee triangle is the region of Colombia where most of the coffee crops grow.

The Coffee Cultural Landscape of Colombia was recently declared UNESCO World Heritage Landscape for its “centennial tradition of coffee growing”.

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The exquisite landscape is characterized by rivers, steep hills with coffee plantations and coffee farms. The major cities are Armenia, Perreira and Manizales. I flew into Perreira.

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My coffee lesson begins at the beautiful Hacienda Venecia. (http://www.haciendavenecia.com)

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Lunch is served.

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It is my new favorite Ajiaco soup and that is their specialty. It is a chicken soup made with three kind of potatoes and Colombian herbs. It is served with avocado and cream. (the chefs)

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Coffee beans begin as red berries.

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The coffee beans are the seeds.

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We head down across a river bed to pick coffee beans.

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They are always hand picked off the vine and don’t pick the green ones.

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We start along a path but gradually we are walking through thick bushes smacking us all over.

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I’m sure I must be getting malaria. The lives of the coffee pickers are hard and the work is tedious and difficult. ( I just walked out of that)

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We learn how the beans are processed and about all the machinery, certification and care involved in transforming the berry into coffee beans.

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, The fresh beans are examined. I was slow at finding the good ones.

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These are good ones. Not broken and no scars.

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Then we roasted my beans in a special toaster. (my coffee beans)

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We smelled different coffee bean aromas from tester bottles.

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The premium beans are dried and sent to Europe and North America. They are sold to a distributor who is responsible for roasting and export.

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The low-grade beans stay in Colombia and are brewed into a sugary watery coffee called tinto sold all over Colombia. The Colombian coffee “revolutionaries” are trying to change that by introducing their quality bean coffee in Colombia. Juan Valdez cafes and chic coffee houses are popping up everywhere like Starbucks. But it is hard to get people to change what they have been drinking all their lives.

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We have a last cup of coffee at the coffee farm. It is starting to rain. I think about all that work that went into producing this one cup of coffee . I think about picking those beans every time I have a cup of coffee now. Coffee will always reminds me of Colombia.

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Viaje Con Cuidado,

JAZ

 

Top Ten Coffee Travel Moments

“This coffee falls into your stomach, and straightway there is a general commotion.  Ideas begin to move like the battalions of the Grand Army of the battlefield. Things remembered arrive at full gallop, ensuing to the wind.  The light cavalry of comparisons deliver a magnificent deploying charge, the artillery of logic hurry up with their train and ammunition.  Similes arise, the paper is covered with ink; for the struggle commences and is concluded with torrents of black water, just as a battle with gun powder. “

Honore de Balzac

Top Ten Coffee Travel Moments

I realized by writing this blog that I am addicted to caffeine. There are way too many references to coffee.  It is the only vice I have left.  I thought I would embrace it by writing my top ten coffee travel moments.

!. I am seventeen and in Europe for the first time.  We  are  in CERVINA in the Italian Alps. There is a cappuccino bar that we go to every morning and have fresh cappuccino before a day of skiing. It is pre cell phones and Starbucks.  The only cappuccino  you got in NY  was in the Italian restaurants  after dinner.  There was no decaf cap. Cappuccino every morning was as big a deal as skiing in the Alps for the first time.

2.   The island of SANTORINI in Greece is where i am spending my twenty third summer.   I am staying at my friend’s house on a mountain overlooking the sea.  It is one of those  Santorini white houses with blue tile.  We have to walk halfway down the mountain every morning to have coffee and fresh bread with butter and honey, at a café run by a family that doesn’t speak English. Santorini was  not the five-star  tourist destination it is now but it always had five-star views of the sea, volcano and black sand beaches. .  “kafe me gala  sketos parakalo” The grandmother always dressed in black would smile at my bad Greek pronunciation and bring me my coffee. They used condensed milk all the time with coffee and I love the taste.  I think they wear black  because someone in their family close to them has died – usually they are widows.

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3.  My daughter who is twelve and her tap company have performed at the Cuban Ballet Festival throughout Cuba.  We are driving back to HAVANA from Santa Clara.  Since Petrol is scarce, members of the Columbian Ballet Company are sharing the bus with us. We get back around five and I have a serious lack of  caffeine headache.  I invite the Columbian dancers who I have spoken to in bad Spanish  for a coffee at the hotel.  I order a double espresso and drink it down  like I am doing a shot of tequila.   First they stare at me and then they laugh and do the same.  We start by drinking espresso shots –we move on to Mojitos. No one slept that night. (Cuba,Jim Kane)

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4. We have arrived at the SACRED VALLEY in Urubumba, Peru.  We are spending the night at the beautiful Sol Y Luna  hotel and the altitude is 9000 feet. (2400 m)  It is our first night in the Andes.  I start to have this headache and feel dizzy. As we are going to our rooms someone says to me, “Be careful, the headache is the first sign of altitude sickness”.  I go right to the worst case scenario.  I remember my mindfulness training as I am going into high anxiety mode. I investigate the feeling in my body and think it isn’t that severe. It feels like a lack of caffeine headache.   I remember I didn’t have coffee that afternoon. I relax and go right to sleep. I wake up early and have a wonderful Peruvian breakfast  of yogurt , fruit, kikucha cereal ( grain like quinoa) and coffee. No more headache.

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5. I usually hate instant room coffee.  But in PANAMA it was really good. It is called Puro and I brought some home.   I have a confession. I kind of like non dairy creamer   Sometimes your diet needs a few chemicals.  I got up every morning in  Gamboa  to watch the sunrise over the rainforest and had a coffee while lying in a hammock on the terrace.

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6. Anna and I have spent the day on  the island of NAOSHIMA in Japan.  It is the island that Tadao Ando has designed and dedicated to art and nature.  There are museums, outdoor sculptures, galleries and installations in houses throughout the island.  It is a bit like a scavenger  hunt trying to see everything.  But we did it. We are at a small  ferry at the other end of the island that locals use to head back to the mainland . I am looking for coffee. We see something that looks like it might be open. We walk in. There is cool music and magazines and interesting furniture and art . It is  like a Japanese Greenwich village coffee-house  on this little island street.  We can’t believe our luck.  We have coffee and wait in this beautiful restaurant for the ferry and talk about our amazing day.

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7. I had been  in the  incredible  city of VENICE for a few days with my daughter and a friend. My son arrived after traveling around Europe alone.  He had a lot to say and wanted to have  a coffee in Venice and talk about his travels. We sat in a café on the canal and he told me his stories. I was happy sitting there listening to him  and I could hear  that he loved to travel as much as I did.  Family travel moments are few and far between now. It was a beautiful trip.

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8.  It was my first day in ISTANBUL. I had shopped at the Grand Bazaar with my guide for the day Renan.  We stopped for lunch.  We met  carpet salesmen from Los Angeles.  Suddenly, it didn’t seem so far away.  This was my first experience with Turkish food. Hot yogurt soup and something with my favorite vegetable –eggplant.  – delicious. I had my first Turkish coffee. (a lot like Greek coffee) I loved the thickness and the feeling of the grounds in my mouth ( coffee that you can chew).  It isn’t bitter either so I am able to drink it without milk. She read the coffee grinds to me.  We used to do this in Greece. It was my first coffee fortune in a very long time.  It wasn’t bad. My next one wasn’t great. So I stopped doing it and just drank the coffee.

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9. I am in EDINBURGH, Scotland for the Fringe Festival. My daughter is performing there with her high school theatre group. In the summer, walking down the Royal Mile is crazy. Everyone is in costume and giving out flyers and performing and begging to get you to go their shows. The Starbucks is right at the beginning of the Royal Mile, next to the Fringe Ticket Office. I meet a friend for coffee after picking up some tickets. We are surrounded by Vikings and Elizabethans all having cappuccinos and lattes. In fact, only the barristers are   dressed in modern-day clothing.  I felt  a little underdressed.

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10.   A few weeks ago, I was walking down Portobello Road in LONDON with my college friend Suzie.  Suzie was the first person I traveled around Europe with . We were about eighteen. We lost touch after college but reconnected  a few years ago through the magic of facebook.  We were both going to be in London at the same time. We aren’t looking for vintage clothes like we used to  (and still do) but vintage housewares.  It is freezing out. We go into a coffee house and see a long queue. It is called the Coffee Planner. The girl in front of me says it is the best coffee on Portobello Road and worth waiting for. Suzie buys an unbelievably good sandwich from a vendor outside and we sit and drink our coffees eating this sandwich.   Jayne and Suzie together again in Europe. ( St. Paul’s Cathedral from the Millennium Bridge)

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Do you have any good coffee moments?

Fly safe,

JAZ

Where Is The Starbucks?

“The whole purpose of places like Starbucks is for people with no decision-making ability whatsoever to make six decisions just to buy one cup of coffee. Short, tall, light, dark, caf, decaf, low-fat, non-fat, etc. So people who don’t know what the hell they’re doing or who on earth they are, can for only $2.95, get not just a cup of coffee, but an absolutely defining sense of self.” Tom Hanks in You’ve Got Mail, Nora Ephron

Where is the  Starbucks ?

It started  as a gift from Beijing. It was my first.Yes, im a Starbucks girl.I get free soy and flavorings when I can find my  gold card.   I know it’s a lot trendier to drink Intelligentsia or French Press , but I am an iced grande soy  three pump sugar-free vanilla latte.

When I started traveling after many years, I was surprised to see Starbucks. The world had gotten a lot smaller. I bought a mug in Athens, Edinburgh and London that summer. Now  I had the beginning of a collection.

It gives me a bit of a plan in a foreign country. I check when I arrive  if they have Starbucks (yes,there are some places that still don’t)  Sometimes its easy. In Tokyo and Madrid they were right downstairs from the hotel. In Sevilla  and Osaka they were across the street.

The only Starbucks in Russia at that time was in Moscow on Arbat Street.  I walked with some friends past the Kremlin and statue of Gogol to find it. I took a picture of the Starbucks sign in Cyrillic.  No one spoke English in Russia in most restaurants. I said iced grande soy sugar-free vanilla latte.  They gave it to me. That was the only thing in Russia I could order without  serious hand motions. I had no idea what I was ordering  most of the time.

In Vienna I was telling the owner of the Starbucks store about my Russian Starbucks experience. He offered me a few hundred dollars for it . He also had a collection.They were out of Starbucks mugs in Lima . It didn’t taste as good as their regular coffee.

Spending a long amazing  day with Anna in Hiroshima and Miajima, I was too tired to go to Starbucks but Anna pressed on so I have a Hiroshima Starbucks mug –pretty incredible considering our history.  I brought home Starbucks mugs from every city in Japan  – between the coffee and tea, that country is fueled by caffeine.

The Dublin one came from one of the many bookstores.  I was shopping on Oxford Street  in London and stopped in for  Starbucks and found all the U.K .countries.. In Bangkok it was near  No Sex Thai Massage.  Changing planes in Hong Kong I picked one up on the way.  My friend Lisa brought me one back from Munich and the following year I went with her.  My daughter took me to the one near her room  when she was studying in Prague. The tour guide in Hanoi had never had Starbucks before. I bought him his first one.

Their mugs travel well. You just  wrap them in a t-shirt and throw them in your suitcase. They don’t break.

The stores look exactly the same as they do here – complete with the same people sitting with laptops.  It always reminds me of one of those dreams where you are in a place that you know but you don’t.  The food is different. .  There are  interesting  fresh juices  and fabulous thick hot chocolate in Spain.  The UK  has my favorite ginger cookies.  In Japan, there are beautiful green tea desserts and it is all about shorts ( a discontinued size here) . There are excellent looking pastries in Vienna, Prague and Germany (where afternoon is always cake time) The Starbucks are always crowded.

I drink coffee from one of the mugs every morning.  All the mugs have a story and stories last forever.  Sometimes it is a friend’s story of a place I haven’t been to yet.  It is the perfect gift for me.  This blog was written  this morning while drinking out of a New Zealand Starbucks mug.

Fly Safe

JAZ