How did we end up with so many ways to make coffee? This photo doesn’t even tell the whole story. Here you can see from left to right, an hourglass-shaped coffee maker, a red capsule espresso maker, a grind-and-brew espresso/cappuccino maker, and a good ‘ole drip coffee maker. We actually have a second identical one of the drip version because we were operating out of two houses for a while. If you looked in our suitcase you’d see a collapsible brewer that fits directly over your cup, a couple of half-liter thermoses for the train, and even a few sleeves of our favorite brand as instant crystals in case we get desperate. Have we lost our way?
After reading that, you might think that we were coffee fanatics, guzzling the stuff night and day. Not at all; we just like the taste of good coffee, one cup at a time. Now living in a country where a café culture has thrived for centuries, we just seem to be adapting to the local ways in our own home. Couldn’t we get an excellent espresso at one of the numerous sidewalk cafés in town? Yes, we can and we do but sometimes you want to recreate that experience before lunch or perhaps after you’ve served dinner to friends.
When we do go out for a coffee, how much does it cost? About 1 euro 50 cents ($1.56) per cup which is the same as the cost of a glass of wine, so there’s always a choice or a decision to make. Just before moving here, I remember seeing a news story about a café elsewhere in France that posted a sign with different prices based on how you asked for the coffee: A. Coffee; B. Coffee, please; C. Hello, coffee, please; with the price decreasing as the civility increased. I guess that helps to put the culture into the café.
So, what’s to become of our collection of makers? For breakfast we have to keep the drip machine since our baguette must be accompanied by a mug of what the French might call café americain. For an at-home espresso or cappuccino, the automatic grinder and brewer can’t be beat. The red machine that uses capsules is destined for the charity shop and that glass brewer, the original of which is found in New York’s Museum of Modern Art, has to stay. Coffee, anyone?