From my post rating all the coffee in college , one can deduce that I like my coffee and am rather picky about it. I read a blog a few weeks back, and unfortunately can’t retrieve it, about how sometimes the best cup of coffee is in fact a really bad cup of coffee, as opposed to your fancy €5 triple shot mocha frappuccino with vanilla and gold dust in the froth . It struck me as interesting and accurate but I had only just realised the truth behind that. Looking back, the best cups of coffee have been the ones that I’ve needed in the moment. Some people probably think it’s strange that I remember a lot of the coffee I’ve drank, as I’ve said before, it makes me happier than most things do. So, I’m going to talk about the best cups of coffee I’ve had, and stare disdainfully at the empty cup of Nescafe Instant next to me as I do so, and the worst because my god sometimes bad coffee really is bad coffee.
I refer to this one as”Parkway Study coffee”. During the dreaded Leaving Cert my weekends were spent locked in a study hall located next to a shopping centre called the Parkway. Obviously after studying for hours I was in dire need off caffeine. I looked awful because I had temporarily given up on appearance, I felt awful because I spent my only days off school doing more work, and the highlight of my life at this point was taking a 15 minute break where I would crawl to the kitchen with my oatcakes and my coffee as if I was about to literally drop dead without it. This coffee was the cheapest of the cheap, I’m talking literal Euro Shop coffee here ( which surprisingly doesn’t taste bad) and it was perfect. It was just what I needed to warm my soul and prevent me from passing out onto my exam papers.
Bewley’s Hotel Instant Coffee
I’m not overly fond of Bewley’s coffee, I don’t hate it but it’s a bit too acidic for my liking. However, a few years ago on a school trip to Galway as part of an exchange programme I took to the little sachets of coffee that are a beloved facet of every hotel room. It was divine, for some reason Beweley’s hotel instant is better than a “real” cup you get in a cafe, or maybe there’s something in the air in Galway that makes their coffee better than anywhere else.
The “After a big meal” cup of coffee
There is nothing I want more than oily black coffee after am meal sometimes, usually Chinese for some reason, which thankfully most Chinese restaurants have! I suppose it’s because the food is bad and therefore the coffee accompanying it should also be bad. I think the texture and taste comes from literally sitting in the machine all night. As disgusting as it is, it somehow hits the spot better than desert ever could.
Tim Horton’s Machine Coffee
We don’t have Tim Horton’s cafes in Ireland so I had to get it out of a self service machine in Spar. Most people I know don’t actually like it, but I love it. I can’t even explain why but those latte’s are to die for, I normally don’t like bitter coffee but Tim Horton’s nails it. Unfortunately the Tim Horton’s machines have been replaced by an inferior brand, so maybe I’ll just move to Canada.
Edit: I got to go to a real Tim Horton’s cafe in 2018 in New York, read about it here.
Full Board Unlimited Spanish coffee con leche
In my last blog I mentioned being in Torremolinos last summer. My parents made the smart decision of going full board in the hotel, which for me meant unlimited free coffee (and alcohol – and on a side note they were generous with their spirit servings) and a saying of mine is “free coffee is best coffee”. The Spanish do this weird thing where the milk they put into the coffee is warm. All along I’ve believed the purpose of putting milk into coffee is to cool it down, and for taste, so this was peculiar. It did grow on me though and despite only being there a week the coffee at home felt weird for awhile. I miss the abundance of free coffee everyday, and piña coladas by the pool.
The Coffee at Work
I don’t know what coffee we use at work but it is surprisingly good. I normally don’t get to work in the cafe section (and instead wind up stuck with drooling kids all weekend) but they barista trained me so I make myself mochas all day. A kids play centre is the last place you’d expect good coffee, but it’s the one good thing about the job. One of these days I think I might ask what the beans are and make it at home.
My favourite coffee beans in the world is without a doubt Badger & Dodo beans. I actually asked for a coffee grinder and specifically Badger & Dodo for Christmas this year, and aside from the tattoo kit I got at my dad’s work Christmas party when I was a kid (which to their dismay is probably why I love tattoo’s so much now) I consider it the best Christmas present I’ve ever received. However, I fell in love with Badger & Dodo in a beautiful cafe called the Cellar Door where I spent a summer drinking mochas almost everyday and because I was happy, I didn’t care that my stomach wasn’t as flat as it could have been. It was cosy, unique, and felt like home. Cellar Door has closed since but it genuinely changed my life because prior to it’s existence I hadn’t much of a social life and next to no friends. I still have the people and the events in my life but no cup of coffee I made can compare to theirs. So there is a lot of nostalgia here but coffee was genuinely better than any I’ve drank thus far.
Edit: Badger & Dodo have a cafe in Galway I visited in summer 2019, read about it here.
Now to the worst:
One does not go to Ikea for the food or the coffee, but it was brown water in a Styrofoam cup. I understand that they would be more concerned with their furniture and whatnot, but I had to throw it out and I am the type of person who considers it sinful not to finish a cup.
Grumpy Mule in College
You may remember the Grumpy Mule from the “Coffee Quest” blog, again dear sweet Jesus no. That was not coffee, it was dirt in hot water.
Fancy Hotel Coffee
Earlier this month I was in Dublin for J1 interviews which were in a hotel. I’m not naming and shaming them, but I got up at about 6am to get the bus to Dublin, was still sitting in the hotel at 4pm waiting for my friend to finish up and as you can imagine I was barely conscious. As I approached the bar my favourite scent hit me and it smelled heavenly. I paid €3.50 for the smallest Americano I have ever seen and it tasted just as bad as Ikea. I didn’t even get a caffeine kick from it. For some reason the coffee that smells the best tastes the worst as I remember having high hopes for the Grumpy Mule after how nice the cafe smelt.
Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte
I’ve said before that while Starbucks do a good hot chocolate, their coffee is overrated. A Starbucks opened in town, and curious about the pumpkin pie latte craze I had to try one. Now, I actually love pumpkin spice, and make a mean pumpkin spice latte at home, and as basic as it may be I was looking forward to this experience. I paid €4 to drink sugar-y milk, I don’t even put sugar in my coffee. I could not taste any coffee or pumpkin spice. I’m not even exaggerating, I felt like my stomach was lined with sugar and wanted to puke for the rest of the day.
Update: Ironically the day after publishing this I got the nerve to try a matcha latte. I actually like green tea, but we have a new winner. It was more revolting than anything I’ve previously drank.
What does coffee mean to you?