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2009.06.10

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Heguiberto Souza

Your blog is fabulous I have been following it for a bit now. It got me inspired and I have been blogging about food, food shopping, restaurants in the Bay Area (San Francisco), wine and some other stuff I like for the last couple of months.
your pics are great too! I had no idea turmeric leaves/flowers were edible.. very interesting. Take a look at my blog when you get a chance if you can and let me know what you think.
Oh Asia what a great region for food
Heguiberto
weirdcombinations.com


kirbie

Hmmm. I don't drink much coffee when I'm in Taiwan, but I did notice on my last trip that every single restaurant I went to that offered coffee did not have a decaf option. My relatives informed me that you can only find decaf in a coffee shop. I found that to be interesting because since in the US, decaf is standard almost everywhere.

Jarrett

Hey Robyn,

Having been to Malaysia, and having just returned from Java, I've found the coffee in both of these coffee producing countries to be pretty disappointing. Especially when it comes to workaday stuff.

I'm sure there are good cafes in KL where you can get a great cup - but is there anything like decent street coffee? In KL kopitiams I was served something that tasted like coffee with chicory and sugar - dark, bittersweet and strange. And in Java, Nescafe seems to have a stranglehold on the market. That was mighty depressing to me. Did I miss something?

Robyn

Thanks HS - I'll have a look.

Hi kirbie - I didn't see decaf on the menu in any coffee shops we stopped into on Taiwan, but then again I wasn't looking for it. You might be able to find it at Starbucks (eeww) or a local chain like 85C.

Hi Jarrett - I agree that Nescafe is a scourge. If I have to I will, but I take it like medicine.

If you're judging Malaysian-style coffee (I say Malaysian 'style' bec most of the coffee drunk here is in fact not produced here - many kopitiam use Indonesian beans) by Western-style drip coffee or espresso beverages you'll never be happy with it. (Conversely, many Malaysians who grow up with kopitiam-style coffee find Western-style coffee weak and insipid.) So I suppose if you want to appreciate it you must take it for what it is.

There are good versions and bad; the best kopitiam kopi has a pleasing (to me, anyway) richness and chocolate-yness. One thing I like about it is that it really stands up to ice.

On Java real kopi can be found on most any street, at warung. I usually ask the seller to add an extra spoonful of ground coffee to my glass, otherwise it's too weak, and to add less sweetened condensed milk. You don't get the grounds in your teeth if you let the glass sit for several minutes and avoid drinking to the bottom (like Turkish coffee). Most locals pour the coffee in their saucer to cool it down and drink it from there, and so the grounds are left in the glass.

As to whether or not really good coffee exists on the street well, most everything served on the street is relatively cheap, right? That's what street food is, cheap and convenient. Coffee's no different. But the thing is, while you can make a darned good soup tulang from cheap beef bones and off cuts, cheap coffee beans can't be conjured into a gourmet coffee-ish drink.

I'd wager the only place to find really nice 'street' coffee is at the Blue Bottle drip coffee stand at the San Fran Ferry Plaza Farmer's market. And that certainly ain't cheap.

I have had very good locally produced coffee in Indonesia, but only in private homes.

Jarrett

Hey Robyn,

Well, we can agree to disagree on this point. I think the coffee in Java (I drank it in several warung) was watery, bitter and insipid. Especially in comparison to coffees I've had in Vietnam, Laos, Thailand and even Yunnan. And the coffee in all of those places is very inexpensive.

This, from a region that has the ability to grow some of the best beans in the world.

I'm all for local food and drink, but when the local produce isn't given the respect it deserves (most of these warung are using the same pre-ground, store-bought powder that could have been ground weeks or months before) it's disappointing.

For me, it felt like drinking box wine in Burgundy.

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