Friday, December 14, 2007


I learned to drink coffee when I moved to Europe. I was 28. I knew that I would frequently be asked, “Would you like a coffee?” And I knew that, were I to say no, I would have to explain many times “why I don’t drink coffee.” I decided I didn’t want to have that headache, so I learned to drink it.

I’m a café con leche man, so I’m not sure if I qualify as a coffee-drinker. But my friends think of me as a serious coffee-drinker because I have a set way of preparing a cup. Let me show you the light now.

First, heat half a cup of milk in the mic. If you are using our old mic, 6 minutes will do.

Second, use three smallish (okay biggish) scoops of sugar. Stir the milky sweet broth fully, leaving no concentrated pockets of sweetness dangling on the bottom.

Froth the milk, using this nifty device.

You must froth the milk at this point, for it is written: “Thou shalt not froth thy milk neither before the sweetening stage nor after the pouring-the-coffee stage. If thou dost either of those, thou hast screwed up royally and thou art considered a ‘Crap Coffee Maker’. Wherefore thou art Crap, porque thy café con leche will not hold thy froth. Thy froth wilt wilt like a pot of over-boiled spinach.”

Add the hot coffee and dash a, um, dash of cinnamon on top. But, remember, the froth is muy importante.

I am five feet tall, and no inches. Since I started drinking coffee at an early age (I grew up in Ecuador on café con leche) people would often tell me that coffee stunted my growth. Usually, I raised my eyebrows quizzically, and said “Have you seen my parents?” Seriously, I was taller than my maternal grandma by the time I was a teenager. Coffee had nothing to do with it!

Coffee and I have had a long relationship. Like any relationship, we have had stages. When I was young it was mostly milk with a little coffee. When I was a teenager, my family drank Colombian Sello Dorado (with Coffee Mate type stuff) all day long. We didn’t make it particularly strong, but there was almost always a pot on. I was, in fact, a very spoiled girl because every morning my Mom brought me a cup of coffee before I got out of bed. (She also strained my fresh-squeezed orange juice because I am not a fan of the pulp. Yes, I know, she was a saint!)

Eventually we moved to Spain and switched to making it Spanish-style. Which means espresso strong. These days the perfect cup of coffee is half a cup of 2%(ish) milk heated in the microwave, then frothed. (You too can have froth for only $1.99 by shopping at Ikea.) Then you fill to the top with coffee, stir, and sprinkle with cinnamon. Or, on the weekend, top with whipped cream (from a can will do) and cinnamon.

If you come over, we’ll make you a cup!


John Carlson said...

coffee is best black

btw im victorias friend and i love you guys just reading your blog

philxan said...

oooh.. you've hit a nerve. I too have a long and distinguished relationship with coffee. In fact with all things caffiene, but that's another story! Caffe con leche, as I understand it, is similar to a Cafe au lait, which traditionally has non-foamed milk. Foam is only required for a cappuccino, or possibly a latte. And then there's the different coffee preparation methods... maybe you guys should come over for a masterclass... :)

have a wonderful Christmas. Our love to you all.