Following an enjoyable double birthday celebration over lunch last week I was fascinated to hear our friend order in precise detail exactly how she wanted her coffee.

She went onto explain….”My morning coffee is a ritual of spiritual significance. My noisette/machiatto has to have a chocolate consistency, hence Mokolito at my regular cafe. It must not have foam but enough hot milk poured in to make it the colour of a hazelnut, and most importantly it has to be strong and hot… perfecto. I have two cups a morning and that kickstarts the celebrated wires to start sparking into action for the day.” ;}

While we were inMilanI heard that my Father in Law, not a person to mince words or suffer fools, always insisted on an espresso  with just 16 drops, no more, no less.

I love it when people are very clear exactly how they enjoy their coffee … what type of cup, the mouth feel, colour, smell as well as taste……

The right mixture to produce the … “Ah… just so”……moment.


We’ve been away since my last post in April anticipating coffee in Milan but more of that  soon.

In the meantime I note that today Brazilian Maria Gomes Valentim the world oldest person has died aged 114!

Shortly after we left on our travels on 14th April Walter Breuning, the World’s oldest man died in Montana aged 114.

It seemed appropriate to pay tribute to these two folks in a blog focusing upon Coffee and Change (and Age) as apparently last month, Maria Valentim, who was known as Grandma Quita, attributed her longevity to a healthy diet: eating a roll of bread every morning with coffee, fruit and the occasional milk with linseed.

In an interview last autumn, Walter Breuning attributed his longevity to eating just two meals a day, working as long as he could and always embracing change, especially death.

After moving into a retirement home in the 1980s, Breuning spent his time just talking. Here’s a bit of advice he left for generations to come:

  • “I think every change that we’ve ever made, ever since I was a child – 100 years – every change has been good for the people. My God, we used to have to write with pen and ink, you know, (for) everything. When the machines came, it just made life so much easier.”
  • “Life begins each morning whether we have succeeded or failed or just muddled along. Life is a school to learn, not to unlearn.”

Farewell fellow coffee and change devotees….


We’re off to Milan next week; I’m excited, why? Well somehow I have this idea that as coffee in Italy is wonderful Milan is going to be orgasmic!

 I’ve started to imagine hanging out at a tiny coffee bar – savouring a little cup of magic… the creaminess of the gusto….. my tongue swirling around my mouth playing with wave after wave of coffee foam …… the smooth seductive hit of the espresso embracing my taste buds…Ah…. dolce far niente!


 So drooling eagerly I started to search on the internet for speciality coffee places to head for and whoa… every time I entered good coffee in Milan, Milan coffee, speciality coffee, torrefazion in Milan I kept getting places  anywhere other than in Milan.  Milano coffee in Vancouver, Oregon, Belfast, Cape Town etc etc but none in Milan! It seems like  a lot of places boast about supplying coffee that has come from Milan or roasted Milan style but I can’t locate a speciality coffee house in Milan at least by internet. …  I found a few in Turin but NONE in Milan. I cannot locate a speciality coffee roaster in Milan.

 Of course good coffee places in Italy may not be so bothered to use the internet to attract visitors or simply it’s not chic to use the ether in Italy… but really? In fashionista Milan?

 So now I’m intrigued – will coffee in Milan live up to my dreams or will it be a myth?


I’m reflecting as I gaze into my cup of coffee today (Tanzania Nyamtimbo Peaberry purchased from Sweet Maria’s  – apparently best to roast to City + or Full City + ).

I’ve been experimenting with my new coffee roaster – the Gene Café. It’s completely different from my iRoast2. I’m in new territory and frankly I don’t exactly know where……I’m not sure I’ve got this roast “right”… that is have I really brought out the delights of this particular bean?  The wonder and joy of the Gene Café also means that I’m thrown overboard into the sea of roasting. I now need to watch the changing colour of the  beans as they roast… to listen to the “first crack” as well as get used to the foibles of the new machine, not least the undulating voltage in France……

Ah La France!…we’ve been here now for 16 months…. Whenever people ask me “How’s my French?” I’m reminded of a passage in Neither Here nor There by Bill Bryson:-

When I told friends in London that I was going to travel around Europe and write a book about it, they said, “Oh, you must speak a lot of languages”. “Why no”, I would reply with a certain pride, “only English”, and they would look at me as if I were crazy. But that’s the glory of foreign travel, as far as I am concerned. I don’t want to know what people are talking about. I can’t think of anything that excites a greater sense of childlike wonder than to be in a country where you are ignorant of almost everything. Suddenly you are five years old again. You can’t read anything, you have only the most rudimentary sense of how things work, you can’t even reliably cross a street without endangering your life. Your whole existence becomes a series of interesting guesses.

Then I recently read this passage in Being Wrong (adventures in the margin of error) by Kathryn Schulz:-

As we get older, the learning curve decelerates, and all these things drop off exponentially. We make fewer mistakes, function more efficiently, and come to share with other adults certain baseline beliefs about the world. But we also spend much less of our time in anything remotely akin to exploration, learning and play. The pleasurable mistakes of childhood disrupt our lives less often, partly because the world is less novel to us, and partly because we don’t seek out whatever novelty remains – or at least we don’t do so with the same zeal (and same institutional support: classrooms, afterschool programs, summer camps) as children.

There are exceptions, of course. Long after we have left behind the error-rich kingdom of childhood, we find ways to put ourselves in the path of wrongness in order to grow and change. Take the example of travel, like children, travellers explore the unknown- where, also like children, they routinely make linguistic errors, violate social codes, and get lost, literally and otherwise…….

………Sometimes, we want to be the toddler in Times Square. We travel to feel like a kid again: because we hope to experience the world as new and because we believe the best way to learn about it is to play in it. In travelling……. we embrace the possibility of being wrong not out of necessity but because it changes our lives for the better.

I take another sip of coffee…I have no idea what’s going on……Ah bliss…..  it tastes great!

Well we’ve not been that well over the past few weeks and it’s been a while since I last posted. Happily we were well enough last week to attend the first communion of my nephew’s son. So we drove through Italy from here in Nice to way down south past Naples.

I usually I would not dream of drinking coffee at a service station… but when in Rome, or rather the land of Rome I made an exception……At every service station on the autostrada, and there quite a few on the 971 km trip, I had a coffee.  

What a very different story to motorway coffee at service stations in France. Every service station, no matter how big, slick and commercialised there was an espresso machine and a bar to stand at to drink a reasonable cup of coffee…..usually in real cups.. no paper nonsense.

As a result after a ten hour drive I arrived rather wired….

The following morning we were chatting to a couple at breakfast, about coffee and it emerged that much to the apparent consternation of his partner…the driver had also insisted on drinking a coffee at every service station.

We then compared our experiences of driving in Italy, especially after Naples. We agreed it was wild.

Now the question is…….

“What came first, the coffee or the driving?”

The coffee enables one to cope (or not care) whilst driving in Italy

The mad driving in Italy resulted in the need for good coffee in order to cope!

By the way we noted that as the driving gets more unpredictable and wild the further south one goes so does the coffee gets better.

I think this video clip sums up the effects of coffee rather well……


Ciao ciao

Clearly a lot!

The Anthora cup, created by Leslie Buck.

Leslie Buck, Designer of Iconic Coffee Cup dies at 87! 

Long may it be Happy to Serve!

While I was roasting beans for tomorrows’ breakfast …..(Yemen Mocha Mattari from my last Hasbean order) I was taking my time, relaxing and surfing through some coffee links.

I love this photo and got to thinking about Life’s too short…..and was musing about taking time… and so got to thinking about ….What about coffee and the slow food movement?

and lo and behold came across this……..

 Slow coffee


I also came across this article  – Christoph Niemann’s coffee doodles


What a delight! Sheer brilliance! I love them!

I’m glad I “allowed” myself to take the time to look, I’m now going to take my time to savour ….. Life’s too short to rush good coffee.

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