It’s no secret that my two favorite beverages are coffee and tea. In fact, I only drink coffee and tea, plain water and certain fruit juices these days, abstaining from any form of alcoholic beverages or sodas (and no, I don’t drink beer), with coffee and tea being dominant. I like my coffee black, with sugar, just like I like my tea. The difference is that I prefer hot coffee over cold and iced tea over hot. I’ll drink iced coffee and hot tea when there isn’t any other option.
I made the switch from Nescafé Classic instant coffee to Folgers automatic drip coffee for a short time several months ago. That was when I was drinking at least a 12-cup pot of coffee every day. Of course, 12 cups isn’t really 12 “coffee cups”. It’s more like three or four, depending on the size of the coffee cup (or mug). Still, that’s a lot of coffee to drink every day. I started cutting back on the amount of coffee I was drinking because I thought the caffeine in the coffee was starting to interfere with my sleeping (and it turned out it was something unrelated). I can’t stand the taste of decaffeinated coffee.
I switched back to Nescafé Classic (or Nescafé Clásico when I’m in Phoenix) instant coffee because it’s the only instant coffee I like. It’s a coffee powder made from the entire seed of the coffee fruit (the coffee bean). By the way, I love chocolate-covered coffee beans even if they don’t love me (I have a history with reflux disease, exacerbated by chocolate-covered coffee beans at one time). I switched back because I don’t drink a pot of coffee every day anymore and if there’s one thing I can’t stand, it’s reheated coffee. Burnt coffee isn’t too pleasant either.
I don’t prefer instant tea, but it’s more convenient than brewing tea. When I drink it, it has to be unsweetened Nestea, without any flavoring added. My iced tea brewer was destroyed when the local electric company crossed wires at the transformer. I kept the carafe, however, because it holds the same amount as two pots from a 12-cup coffee maker. After that, I bought a cheap coffee maker that doubles as a tea maker. I’m sure they all do, but this one specifically said so on the package. They should all be called coffee and tea makers. Whatever… I’ve only brewed coffee in it twice, but I’ve brewed tea in it many times.
Lipton tea bags come in two sizes, small and large, and I think I have the small ones. In order to fill the carafe with two pots of tea, I run six bags through the coffee maker twice. The first time, the tea looks really strong, but not very strong at all the second time through. That’s okay because the result is a carafe full of tea at exactly the right strength where I can drink it with or without sugar.
When I first moved to the Philippines in 2006, it was nearly impossible to find instant tea without any flavoring. Almost everything had lemon, peach or raspberry flavors added to it. Most restaurants, including the fast food places, added artificial lemon juice or concentrated lemon juice and it was always too strong of a flavor. It took me months to find the unsweetened Nestea jars.
I should probably tell you that I have nothing against the flavor of real lemons when added to iced tea. It’s not strong at all when a restaurant puts a slice on the rim of my glass. It’s the concentrated and artificial lemon that I have issues with. A few drops from a local variety of citrus called kalamansi doesn’t bother me a bit.
When I was drinking a lot of coffee, I would start craving a cup while on road trips. Between where I live and the destinations, I’m would usually get stuck with either going to a Starbucks or a McDonald’s to get a fresh cup of coffee and let me tell you, that McCafé coffee at McDonald’s (in the Philippines) is never fresh and that cup (or more) at Starbucks costs enough to pay for more than one jar of Nescafé Classic instant coffee. I no longer crave coffee at all when I’m on the road.
A few months ago, I took one of my nieces to the Xtremely Xpresso Cafe at the Subic Bay Freeport Zone for lunch on her birthday. The iced tea they served was undrinkable. The lemon flavor was way too strong. I thought it was just me, but no one else at the table could drink it either.
When I’m out on the road and I want coffee, I want good-tasting coffee. When I want iced tea, I want it without any fruit flavoring (which is nearly impossible). If I can’t get either one, I’ll settle for plain, bottled water. Unlike coffee, bottled water is available everywhere, even in places you wouldn’t expect it to be available. Even bottled tea brands are more readily available than coffee.
When I’m at home, I can make the kind of coffee and tea that I like, including coffee that tastes almost exactly like what Starbucks serves, at a much lower cost. I can’t even buy the kind of coffee and tea that I like when I’m traveling (except when I pass a Starbucks).
By: RT Cunningham
August 9, 2013
Food and Drink
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