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Coffee chart

source: Pop Chart Lab (larger zoomable version available)

My first exposure to the concept of coffee was the sight, sound and smell of my parents’ percolator in the 1970s. Through the eyes of youth, this percolator seemed like an industrial marvel. It weighed what seemed to be 56 pounds (25.4 kilos) and made a lot of intermittent whooshing noise. It was a mechanical whale. The drama of it all sadly ended in the 80s when they “upgraded” to a drip coffee maker called “Mr. Coffee” made of cheap plastic. It offered no excitement to speak of.

Coffee was a morning beverage in our family. An exception was made if we had people over for a weekend dinner in which case they would be offered a cup with their dessert. By Swedish standards, the coffee of my youth could be described as “coffee flavored tea”. Despite my addition of copious dairy and sugar, I never really got into it, not even during my initial university years when one needs the caffeine to pull all-nighter study sessions.

Until, that is, I rediscovered the drama of coffee during a semester abroad in France. I quickly assimilated to morning café crème and after meal espressos. I then worked in a bohemian suburban Chicago café for a year. This is where I learned to steam a perfect milk froth and discovered my espresso shot limit (9).

If I come to your home and you graciously offer me a cup of regular coffee, I will most likely politely turn you down and ask if it is possible to have a cup of tea instead. If however we are in a metropolitan area and fall upon a café with an imposing, chrome-plated machine churning out espresso and steamed milk concoctions with foreign names, I’m totally in. The inflated price of these types of beverages (especially in Stockholm) only adds to my pleasure. Note that Starbucks is a last resort. I prefer more authentic ritual if I can get it.

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