02 March 2009

What's in a Cup - Part 1 杯中乾坤-上卷

People who have just moved to America enjoy ranting about their cultural shock in the Land of the Free: the rude U.S. customs officers, the broken health care system and the way families load up on junk food and frozen dinners at the grocery store every weekend. But few subjects stir greater emotion than the Godawful American coffee.

For a country that puts a Starbucks in every corner of the world and where the Morning Joe verges on a national addiction, America seems decidedly incapable of brewing a decent cup of coffee...

Read the rest of this article in HONG KONG State of Mind, published by Blacksmith Books, available at major bookstores in in Hong Kong, on Amazon and at Blacksmith Books.


  1. Sorry, guys, I accidentally deleted the original posting and lost all those wonderful comments!!! I can be such a klutz...


  2. Thank goodness for automatic email alerts for comments. I can re-create them here... mua ha ha!!!

  3. Look forward to a nice espresso in June!


  4. Nice. I like these espresso machines. :)
    Living in the states left me with no other choices. Starbucks in my best bet to get coffee wherever I go. It is EVERYWHERE. I even have a CARD. It is not just about the coffee. It is a good place to hang out too. Maybe I will try one of your espresso thingy if I ever go to HongKong. :)


  5. Aguante el cortadito argentino :)


  6. Any time you visit Hong Kong, espresso's on me!


  7. Espresso... haven't had them for a while. Thanks for the info. I think I'll have to try a cup now. :)


  8. it's funny how you put ads in FB to redirect to your website and then put ads in your blog. are you trying some experiment to see if you can breakeven? or just a self-loving blog writer who gets his adrenaline rush when google analytics indicate daily PV>100?

    nonetheless, your blog is fairly well-written and i'll come back from time to time. and yes, i make daily pilgrimage to starbucks to get the caffeine kick even though it always feels pretty gross to wash the ambiguous brown water down my throat!


  9. Hi g,

    Ads are a default feature on Blogger, I think. In any event, I don't think anyone actually clicks on any of these links and so far I haven't received one cent from Google Ads. There is no chance of breaking even, I am afraid. As for the PV stats, I am a bit of an Internet illiterate and so I don't really know what that is. But I will find out (it took me weeks to figure out how to use Facebook...).

    But do check back from time to time. If you have the time, read some of my older articles. Some are better written than others and I appreciate all constructive criticisms.

    Now that I start drinking coffee regularly again, I am beginning to worry about my teeth getting stained and stomach getting upset.


  10. I know exactly what you mean...I never drink coffee...I just don't like hot beverages....don't ask me why. However my parents were avid coffee drinkers in my native country El Salvador...until we moved to the U.S in 2001....then they stoped because of the same reason you mention in your blog...the coffee was not strong enough for their taste...even the store bought kind that you brew at home. My dad eventually found this Puerto Rican brand called Bustello, which he loved because of its strength.

    Having lived in Germany for three years, I also know what you mean about sitting in a coffee place and enjoying some beverage (for most people coffee) and cake...and just chatting for hours with friends.

    The only thing that I feel is a bit biased in your opinion is your excessive criticism of Starbucks and especially the U.S., makes me wonder if there are any underlying issues, or if you are just following the bashing U.S. trend which is very prevalent in Europe....nevertheless...I do not see why enjoying Starbucks is considered a faux pas...or drinking coffee out of paper cups...it is just a different mentality, different priorities etc. People DO sit down at Starbucks and enjoy a conversation...I know I did...and it was especially nice having a Barnes & Nobles next door; it allowed me to get a book and browse through prospective purchases while I enjoyed some Iced Chai...

    It seems to me like you are a well travelled person, I consider myself one too...and one thing I have learnt is that in matters of preference; nothing is exclusive, you can enjoy strong European-type coffee..and enjoy some Frapuccino from time to time. I know my dad does...and he grew up drinking salvadorian coffee...


  11. Thanks, Isabel, for your great comments.

    I don't have anything against the U.S. and there are certainly no "underlying issues." And I don't think going to Starbucks is a faux pas, but serving coffee in a paper cup is. In fact, I quite like Starbucks and I often take my laptop and sit there for hours. I even own Starbucks coffee mugs and espresso cups!


  12. Hey Jason,

    If you happens to come Singapore. Try out our kopitiam (Coffee shops) style cafe. We have coffee & toast, Ya Kun, Wang, Toast box etc serving nice local coffee and Singapore famous kaya toast.

    Oh god! You makes me craving for coffee now...


  13. interesting article about coffee. like you, I too sometimes worry about coffee staining my teeth but then who can turn down a good cup of coffee.


  14. Thanks, Geraldine. Would love to try new things!

  15. Wondering if the "dropping Coffee" in Vietnam are French style?

  16. Jason,

    I can't tell you how I resound with this piece. You are probably "talking" to one of the worst (or best, depending on how you view it) coffee addict in HK. A good cup of coffee is hard to come by in HK, and most of the time I want the ambience of the place to go with that, like the quaint side-walk cafes which I missed from my study days abroad. Actually I can tell you that I once compiled a list of coffee joints all over HK (to ensure that the receipients of that list know where to go for a good cuppa around their vicinity) That list got the name and contact and what food they serve and what is reputedly the best brew they offer etc etc.

    Sadly, most of my favourite joints have been closed down already. And more disgracefully, that spot has been taken over by a Starbucks or something. I guess I may not be that furious if it is a Cova which at least does a more decent brew (in terms of what these franchises have to offer).

    And though I am not lactose intolerant (I can't go without ice cream in life) I only go for black coffee, no sugar and no milk. Everyone thought I am drinking poison but if the coffee is good enough, or even if they are reasonable (forget the adjective "good" when it comes to coffee in HK) I can feel the aroma of the beans without feel like drinking just boiled milk with sugar. I have long since treated the brew from Starbucks as a hot-chocolate with a bit of caffeine in it if I need a shot late at night while chasing up on an IPO or something.