[I recently returned from an 11-day experience in Israel. This is the third in a series
about my trip.]
Six completely non-spiritual lessons I discovered as I traveled the Coffee Road to Israel.
1. Turkish coffee. The top 3/4 is dark and thick. The bottom inch is all of the grounds that have been allowing their deliciousness to ooze up. One day I got greedy and took a drink too many. I gagged out loud on the grounds, and everyone at the table turned to me in surprise. Good times.
2. Floating in the Dead Sea looked fun, but staying dry and drinking espresso with the Dead Sea in the background is more my style. I don’t even know how many shekels I spent on this tiny cup, but savoring each sip while I journaled with this view was worth every.single.one.
3. I now have a favorite coffee drink of all time. It’s called Con Panna. I discovered it at Aroma Cafe, Israel’s most popular coffee cafe. It’s simply whipped cream on top of espresso, but some miraculous chemistry-based operation must happen as the two combine…and it’s glorious. I’m hoping the United States version is at least 75% as good.
4. Our Israeli guide said Starbucks tried for a presence in this country, but couldn’t steal the Israelis’ affection from Aroma Cafe. The only exception was this little guy hiding out in Bethlehem. “Hmm….I wonder if Stars & Bucks would honor my free star drink. I don’t think I’ll ask.”
5. Arabic coffee is cooked coffee, but extra dark and rich with cardamom. I feel that my coffee tendencies fit perfectly in Israel. I never venture into my local hipster coffee joints because I know they would roll their eyes and talk about me later for asking for over-roasted beans that have no nuance of the original flavor. I know that it’s so not coffee-cool, fella in the tight jeans, but I just want my coffee burnt. That’s why I like Stars & Bucks so much.
6. Holy land sites don’t sell gum. I realized at our first hotel that I forgot mine. Each day I looked for a place to buy some with no success. I learned that if you forget your gum and are drinking copious amounts of coffee and breathing out coffee vapors like a dragon, the key is asking different people for gum each day. You can systematically move from the back of the bus to the front, and no one will realize you’re the completely irresponsible person who forgot gum.
In all reality, though, my trip-mates were so generous with their gum and friendship that they shared both with the brightest of smiles.
Final verdict: great coffee, fantastic Con Panna, and even better people.