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Have a Cuppa

April 5, 2013

Coming from a family who literally drank coffee like water, I am not proud, but I did start drinking coffee as early as I can talk. My family in S’pore for a long time, even with drinkable water from the tap, still believes in boiling water before drinking. This could be due to the influence of an old illiterate granny in the house, who came from china and who never had drinkable tap water.  So we made coffee every morning, with a sock-like filter and lots of sugar and we kept it in a few thermal flasks for later consumption.

Everyone drank coffee in the house.  From the very young to the very old.  Even guests are served coffee when they arrived.  If, by late afternoon, we finished the flasks of coffee, I will be told to run an errand to a coffee shop to purchase more coffee.  I remember even before I attended kindergarten, I would run across the street to exchange 20 cents for a kettle of fresh coffee.

And I continued with consumption of more than 8 cups a day even after I left home for Canada and America. One of my cousins came to visit me in the States and said as a graduate student, she started to learn to drink coffee and shared her knowledge with me. She did not even know her mother (my fifth aunt who used to live under the same roof as I) is a “coffee connoisseur”.

“No way, my mom knows nothing about coffee!”

In fact, her mom probably didn’t.  But her mom drank more coffee than books that graduate student ever read. “chi yan be ni chi fan duo — 吃盐比你吃饭多”。

My brother and I have experimented with various techniques to brew that perfect cuppa.  My brother has tried many coffee makers and equipments that looked more like what’s in a chemistry lab than a kitchen.  The water has to be filtered, no flouride, chloride or hard water minerals.  Temperature has to be perfect, never to a boiling point.  It must be consumed as soon as it is made.  He spend countless dollars on Cuisant Art that ground and made a promising cup if one promised to add only filtered water.

“Have you seen or drank Turkish coffee? The art of brewing a perfect cup takes a Turkish sand warmer to warm the liquid  inside the Turkish coffee pot. The temperature has to be just right.”

My brother never failed to lecture me  on the art of making coffee every time I visited him.  But he always made me a perfect fresh cup.  Never microwaved.  Drink as soon as it is made.  My Russian friend claimed to be a “coffee connoisseur” himself.  And the irony is, he perfected the art of making his cup of Turkish coffee with a microwave.  I tried it, I have to say it is as good as the $5 Turkish coffee I bought in Bekerley California.

I have my share of coffee makers myself.  As the only coffee drinker in the house, I invested in a cheap one-cup Mr. Coffee. I would not gave this machine too much praise, but I have to credit it for making a fresh simple cup without any paper filter or waste. And since it’s only one cup, I always consume it as soon as it’s brewed.


Then there is a Cappucino machine that served me for almost 20 years.


I learnt the art of making Café Au Lait with 66% milk and 33% Espresso beans from Starbuck (do you know you can exchange this wrapper for a free cup of coffee?) And 1% love while making it should never be left out.


I have another machine here that requires heating from the stove and acted just like a percolator, except it never had a chance to percolate more than once on my stove.


But every so often, I will bring out this “teapot’ with a built-in filter cone to make a pot the way my brother say it should be made with filtered water at the right temperature slowly poured in the ground coffee beans to a look like bubbling mud.


I am too poor to buy very expensive coffee beans.  I have a grinder, but I am happy with any “FAIRTRADE” organic coffee, not those cheap ones.  I used to order from Gevalia but this brand is more popular in Europe and one can rarely find that here except in TARGET:

ImageTo make is to savour and it’s an honour to make and serve coffee, like a samurai sushi chef!

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