I love coffee.

I’ve been addicted to it since I was fifteen and I was allowed to have it whenever I wanted, not just one on special occasions. In grade eleven, I got up to three per day: breakfast, after school, evening. That year I decided to give up coffee for Lent. For the first four weeks, I felt like death, which scared me a bit. The final two weeks I felt OK, no cravings or anything. But it wasn’t enough to stop me getting back on the juice when Easter arrived. I limited myself to one a day, maybe two on weekends.


This is at Raw Space Café in Brisbane a few years ago.

Since then (seventeen years ago, for goodness’ sake), I’ve gotten up to unhealthy levels of coffee consumption another two or three times and have had to consciously cut back and go through withdrawals.

But I love it. My drink is a soy latte, no sugar.

The first time I came to North America in 2004, I was not prepared for how different the coffee situation is here. There is coffee everywhere. Drip-filter coffee. In some diners you get it for free. Often the wait staffer fills your cup on the same trip as handing you the menu. You’d think I’d be in heaven.

However. In Australia, thanks to our huge Italian influence, our coffee is rich, mellow espresso, which is an entirely different experience from drip-filter coffee, no matter how good that drip-filter is. I went insane for the five weeks I was in Canada and the US back then not being able to get my Australian-style flat white or latte.

Every week or so I’d lose it and resort to Starbucks because they were the only ones making espresso. I was profoundly disappointed every time. Either they overcooked the milk or the beans were stale or it was just a different style of expresso than I wanted. Canada has a Germanic influence that Australia doesn’t have, especially in its coffee. I wanted Mediterranean, dammit.

This time, however, I was prepared for the desert of drip-filter. I also learned to appreciate good filter coffee in France in 2011, where they make fresh and gaspingly strong. Over the last three months on this foreign-yet-too-familiar continent, I’ve had some excellent cups of filter coffee. I’ve also had some utterly shit ones. I’ve learned to tell from the scent of the shop which one they’ve got.

fremont ccI don’t think I’ve had a single espresso since I’ve been here; at least with the filter stuff I’m more confident they know what they’re doing. This one I’ve got at the moment at the Fremont Coffee Company on 34th Street, Fremont, Seattle is stellar. Fresh, rich, strong, good acidity and $2.25 for a gigantic soup-bowl sized mug with bottomless refills. Oh yes.

The moral of the story is: when in America, drink drip-filter like the locals do.


It’s the size of my head! The other side of the cup is actually touching my lips here!

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