Saturday, March 29, 2008

I am sick with the flu (I think) and my voice intermittently comes and goes. In spite of this, I am still craving my usual caffeine fix. Reluctant to brave the cold weather, I am now nursing a cup of Tchibo Gold Selection. It's not the best coffee in the world (even going by instant coffee standards) but one simply make the best of a bad situation. Besides, it brings back memories of my backpacking days when I used to come across a Tchibo coffee shop in most of the cities in continental Europe I travelled through.

On that note, I decided to quiz the all mighty Google and check which brands of instant coffee were the most highly regarded so that I could stock up in the event something like this recurs. One of the first links which popped up was a thread on Chowhound with mostly US respondents (apparently, Nescafe targeted at the Latin American market is the best). The lone European response I saw made me laugh with comments such as "North American instants are to European instants what white vinegar is to certified modena balsamic" and "Don't try serving [the European instants] to your auntie from the farm in Iowa, she'll think you're trying to kill her". For those of you in the same quandary as I am, the poster recommends Carte Noir, Alta Rica, Cap Columbie and Kenjara (the last three being gourmet blends from Nescafe). I'll give them a try next time I find a suitably small jar to purchase and let you know in due course.

As for coffee joints, I have, amazingly enough, been to a few good ones in London, such as Caffe Vergnano (Charing Cross and Southbank Centre), The Algerian Coffee Store (Old Compton Street), Coffee@Brick Lane (both outlets on Brick Lane) and, of course, Monmouth Coffee (Borough Market, although its flagship store is on Monmouth Street which I have not yet visited). I also quite like Caffe Nero, which, according to Which? magazine, serves the best coffee out of the retail chains. On a less objective note, Caffe Nero brings back good memories for me as P. (the university boyfriend) and I spent several afternoons there, most notably the wonderfully beautiful spring day after we finally got together officially as a couple.

I feel inspired. Maybe I'll start up a whole new category devoted purely to coffee. I certainly drink quite a lot of it. It's practically the staple in my line of work. One of my senior managers even has a Nespresso machine in his office! But I'll have to get better first.

Stay tuned.

Related Links
Where's the Good Coffee? - TheKua, a writer who has contributed to the Londonist, lists the good coffee places he's come across while in London (which include a few I have not been to).
Cafe Society - Gridskipper's guide to great coffee places where you can take a break from the hustle and bustle of London. If only they had a print feature!
Time Out Eating & Drinking Awards 2007 - Best Coffee Bar - Self-explanatory.

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