Saturday, February 5, 2011

Let’s talk over coffee

It was a gloomy afternoon in Balikpapan, but cheerful smiles and warm hellos from Starbucks baristas brightened up the ambience every time guests stepped into the coffee shop. “One Tall caramel macchiato, one hot Grande hazelnut cappuccino, one Cream Cheese Danish and one baked cheesecake, please,” I said to one of the baristas and exchanged pleasantries with him. After getting my order, I went to a table where my dad was sitting and handed him the steaming cup of hazelnut cappuccino.

I put my hands around the cup of caramel macchiato (my favourite) and smell the coffee aroma. I took a sip, let it linger in my mouth, and then let it coat my tongue as I identified the taste. As a coffee junkie, I enjoy good coffee so much that I don’t mind spending much on a cup of coffee that costs about $4 or approximately Rp 36.000,00. Some people probably say: “Who in their right mind would pay that much for a cup of coffee? Go make it at home!” I think I would agree with these people.

Nevertheless, some people would also pay a lot for booze – for example, someone would pay $229.99 for Johnnie Walker. Personally, I have an example of my own. I used to pay about $13 for one shot of tequila – and sometimes one shot led to another every time I was in the mood for booze-up or just trying to get a little bit tipsy. Then I asked myself: “Does it become commonplace to pay several hundred dollars for a bottle of Scotch Whisky?”

Okay, here is my opinion. Like clothes, what you buy or drink reflects who you are. It reflects different things about you depending on your current situation. It can make a direct statement to the society, whether it is affordable or not for you. How much money you have available to spend on a cup of coffee can also have an influence on what you end up buying to drink.

Some people may go to Starbucks and buy four-dollar coffee because they think they can enjoy a good cup of coffee there. Some people will just drink the expensive stuff to satisfy their curiosity due to the hype and fad of drinking Starbucks coffee. Or some people just want to be social climbers because they think there is a lot of prestige attached to sipping a cup of coffee at Starbucks. Everyone has their own personal reasons for buying expensive coffee and choosing where they buy it from.

Starbucks is not the only coffeehouse that serves great coffee. I would recommend a cheaper cup of hazelnut latte at Dunkin’ Donuts to accompany your donut of choosing. Dunkin’ Donuts also has a reputation for brewing high-quality coffee, making it a competitor to Starbucks. In Malaysia, Old Town White Coffee (the largest kopitiam restaurant chain in the country) offers a classic cup of white coffee that you should give a try.

If you happen to be in Indonesia, there’s a famous cafĂ© opened first in 1991 in Jakarta (it is now open in more than 17 Indonesian cities, including Balikpapan) that comes highly recommended. If you are somebody who really enjoys iced coffee, this place can be perfect to experience a unique blend of coffee and other ingredients such as rum, ice cream, fruit juice and so on. When its tagline “When coffee is your lifestyle” caught my eye, I was thinking that millions of people around the world today drink coffee and drinking gourmet coffee has become part of the lifestyle. It seems like “coffee culture” – and it’s just a matter of deciding your price range and desired place.

So how do you like your coffee?

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