I arrived at the Lavazza room and was delighted by the colorful array of coffee related instruments strewn across the table. We were served a traditional Italian espresso to start off the class. I politely declined the espresso not being a fan of black coffee; particularly really strong black coffee. I also considered that I probably did not need the additional caffeine.
The class began with information about coffee and water proportions. We scribbled down proper brewing times and different brewing methods including percolation and decoction. The coffee instructors showed us pictures and told us lovely stories of different coffee drinking traditions around the world. What is strange to some is completely normal to others. I think “normal” is one of the most relative terms in the English language.
We drank coffees in the cultural styles of Ethiopia, Turkey, Senegal, Indonesia, Mexico and Italy. From coffees served with melted butter on top and popcorn on the side to coffees not even made with coffee beans, each cup was different and interesting. I learned that the percolation method we use in Costa Rica was originally born in Brazil.
I have heard from so many coffee “professionals” that the United States doesn’t know how to drink coffee or that Costa Rica doesn’t know how to make coffee properly. I was more than delighted when our workshop host explained that there is no right or wrong way to make or drink coffee. It all has to do with personal taste and cultural traditions. If everyone had the same way of making coffee or enjoyed drinking it in the same manner, it wouldn’t be such an interesting topic.
I think many times we forget that most anything in life has more to do with personal taste and ingrained tradition than with right or wrong. I for one am happy that I like my coffee with milk and that my friend drinks it black. Life would be so boring if everything and everyone were the same. The Lavazza coffee course was interesting and very educational. I enjoyed learning about the different coffees around the world, but mostly I enjoyed remembering why culture is so lovely. Diversity is a beautiful thing.