A Quiet Word About North American Coffee

Seattle, USA – November 12, 2000

You’ve probably heard this before, but American coffee is terrible, and they take their terrible coffee VERY seriously. It’s not possible to walk more than a few metres in downtown Vancouver (and, I suspect, in any other major North American city) without stumbling into a coffee bar. Starbucks set the trend and are everywhere, and in between these are other chains and smaller operators, all pumping weak, watery liquid into the bodies of Americans.

You can have your weak watery liquid in any number of varieties and roasts, but to me it all tastes of nothing much at all. Most coffee shops offer various ‘liqueur’ coffees, which means that at least your coffee will taste of something. Coffees are served in jumbo-sized polystyrene cups, which people seem to have permanently attached to their lips wherever you go. Some coffee shops do have espresso machines, but we haven’t yet found a machine combined with someone who knows how to operate it, so no luck there. The coffee drinkers among us are looking forward to getting home to a simple continental roast and a good plunger.

This state of affairs is in stark contrast to Argentina, where the coffee was, in general, excellent. It is also taken very seriously there, but the strong European background has kept the coffee much more like what we have come to expect in Australia.

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