Memories of Beachside Coffee!
Earlier this week, I was transported back to Thailand from my humble classroom in Atlanta, USA when the most unlikely of visitors made an appearance in my coffee- an ant. I slurped it up and went about my day. Allow me to explain.
In October/November of 2005 Linds and I discovered the magnificance of Thailand. From our first steps in that high tech buhidist kingdom, we were hooked. It had everything we loved, beaches, tasty foods, budget everything, cleanliness, violent sports, and of course fantastic coffee.
We had just been whisked to the tourist mega zone known as Khao San Rd. with our new friend, Phat-T (a manc named Tony) It was in its typical state of bustle and heave. A bit overwhelmed, we stopped in at a bar/cafe for some refreshment. I think Linds got a Pepsi and Phat-T got a Singha, and me? Despite the sticky heat, I ordered a piping coffee, tossed some sweetener in and downed it. I thought it was marvelous! So good. See, we’d just arrived from India where all we were drinking was chai tea. Yes, yes, yes! I know that chai tea is awesome, especially the peppery blends they serve in the crowded streets of the Indian subcontinent, but understand, I’m a coffee man. I drink some 2-5 cups per day. I need that caffeine. Its my artistic lifeblood. Some artists have LSD, I’ve got coffee.
We continued traveling over the following 8 weeks through Thailand until we got stuckon the small scuba island named Ko Tao. In Ko Tao we had a brilliant bungalow (Sai Ree Cottages) with a wonderful restaurant, kind friends, and a solid used-book swap shop. We were set up. My art flourished. I proceeded to write 17 songs inspired by our 18 days in India that we’d just got done with. Every morning in Ko Tao was the same: get up at 7:30ish (we’re serious morning people), Linds would jog on Hat Sai Ri (Sai Ri Beach) and I would gulp down coffee and write lyrics. This particular beach is kind of a rustic area and ants would always be in the sugar. There was no morning coffee that was free of a floating ant carcass that had been shovelled in my cup with the heaping sugar. I gulped them down, one by one.
One morning I was particularly early, maybe 6:30. I went down to the guesthouse to see if anyone was knocking about. They were. I seated my self and saw a sight that would make my mind reel- I saw them make the coffee. It was instant Nescafe coffee! I felt so duped. This coffee that I’d raved on and on about was the lowest form of coffee. It wasn’t even coffee for all I was concerned.
This experience opened my eyes. From that point on, I realized that the majority of Thai coffee is instant and I accept that. It is not at all uncommon to see a Nescafe sign in any Thai food establishment. They love it. In fact, they have some cool products that I think would be cool in the west. For example, there are these smart little My Cup single serve packets. They come with coffee, sugar (plenty of it) and creamer. It’s great. You just add water!
I don’t know why in Thailand they don’t really do bean coffee like we do in the west. Perhaps because it’s cheaper? That may be true, but I am here to set the record straight: Not all instant coffee is bad. I have learned that I like instant coffee and I am not ashamed.