Friday, March 7, 2014

Coffee; Café

It is 9:00. The sun plays with pastels on the smog lined sky. A faint silhouette of the mountains is visible from where I sit, but they are obscured by a veil of city life. I breathe in. My eyes are scratchy from the exhaust fumes and my new found allergy to Lana or wool. I bought some needles and sheep yarn to occupy my hands while I listen to the world around me. This was good for a while. I would listen to the Spanish dancing on the air and converse with my friends while creating. Yet, it is becoming increasingly difficult to breathe. I am allergic to sheep. Too bad I will never give up my poncho... 

The things we choose to keep in our lives insclusive with minor amounts of suffering vary widely from person to person. I, for example, am too stubborn to take allergy medicine, despite being allergic to 67/80 plants of the native vegetation in Santa Cruz. Yet, I will forever be found in the middle of the head high grassy fields. I also will finish the scarf I am knitting while wearing a poncho, and will continue to begin my morning with coffee, even if it means that around 2:00 I will crash. 

My first coffee in Chile was at my 10 hour layover in Santiago. It was decent, but I found myself excusing the mediocre flavor by way of it being an aeropuerto coffee. The presentation was entertaining and I remember the gratitude I felt while sweet caffeine made way through my system. I may have even written about it in my first post. 

Shortly after my first coffee I found myself in the heavenly El Barista Caffé in Puerto Varas. This turned out to be a grand veil of illusion. The coffee was good, the ambience is incredible, yet this is the only place in Chile to date with good coffee. How did I become such a snob? I was jaded by this coffee and expected the stores to be stocked with coffees that we couldn't get in the states because South America is where most of the coffee is produced. When I reached the coffee isle in the store though, I found myself sorely mistaken; Nescafé monopolizes the business in chile. The worst part is that all of their coffee is instant... The majority of my coffees thereafter looked like this.

I would be served hot water in which to mix my instant coffee. Bumbumbum. I respect that Chileans subsist with this form of cafe. Perhaps, they have become accustomed to and enjoy the flavor. I have witnessed many innovative ways to make the perfect cup of instant coffee as well. My personal favorite is made by dumping a package of sugar into the instant coffee and then mixing it viciously with a tiny bit of water. After about 2.76 minutes of vivacious whisking, you add the boiling water and the top becomes a beautiful froth. I see the adaptation to this form of coffee as a mutualism, where Chileans have evolved a specific taste for it allowing it to persist and thrive.

So how did it get this way? Coffee in South America is produced to export. So guess what? Us up there in Lalaland have access to and dominate the coffee imports. While I find myself unbelievably grateful, I also feel a punch of guilt deep down knowing people here don't have the option of the coffee grown so much closer to them. Maybe I am making generalizations, I have only been in Chile and much else is left to be explored. However, this singular product has made me the most aware of how our world is interconnected economically. The products of the land I am currently residing on benefit me 5000+ miles away more than here. 

Now that I have let that off my chest I will go on to dedicate the rest of this blog to the best coffees I have had in the past two months. They are not in order by best to worst, but are partially chronological:

1. Cafe Caleta

Here I found myself in Parque Pumalin, amidst the trees and turqouise river only a 5 minute walk from a bakery. I was pleasantly surprised, and was able to complete large quantities of class work while sipping on warm beverages. However, they did not have cafe en grano, so I subjected to tea made in hot milk. The architecture of this cafe is worthy of an entire post, and I highly recommend passing through here!

2. Cowboy Coffee; café de gaucho 

Okay I admit it. I bought a bag of El Barista coffee because I couldn't handle the flavor of Nescafé. The downside of this was that I would find myself without a mirror and a full set of coffee grains hanging out in my mouth that wouldn't be pointed out until a few hours later. However, it was worth it and is a memorable part of my life in the backcountry.

3. Well you already know this café...

El Barista does it again.

4. Café Alemán; Castro, Chiloe

The coffee here is nothing to rave about, but the ambiance and pastries are. This a sweet little German shop, where I had my most memorable breakfast. Heck, I'll include a picture of that too it was so good. 

Who knew blueberries on eggs would ever be a thing ?

4. Cafe Ristretto; Castro, Chiloe

Here was some really decent coffee. After five straight days of rain, this cafe was a refuge for us. Above is Perris mockachino. It is so sweet is debatably caffeinated, but is undeniably delicious. 

Below is Kate's pot of tea and my cappuccino. This was so wonderful, I practiced my best and most patient willpower to sip and savor every moment of this cup. The feelings of this place for me are safe, trendy and warm. It is recommendable.

5. Some Cafe in Cucao Chiloe

This cafe is located in the campground in Cucao at the entrance to the coast. Somehow it is inclusive with wifi and was also the first French press I have seen. The coffee is good and the cafe is gorgeous with an equally beautiful view.

6. Then began Yerba Mate

I am a new member of the mate crew. I'll admit that when I return home to the states you will be finding me with Mate in hand. It is a wonderful ritual, and it slows you down with company before you speed into the day.  However, I somewhat ashamedly drink coffee and mate simultaneously in the morning...


I have no excuse other than that sometimes coffee deserves a bigger container than breakfast.

8. Barista... Again

9. And only one more time for good measure

It was my favorite place. Can you tell??

10. Matematemate

I say it 3 times because that is the minimum amount of rounds necessary before commencing any activity with an Argentine in the morning. In this case, you'll notice the hands are that of a climber and dear friend. After this mate I rode the mate high and crashed before he was ready to climb. We did climb though, and that was magic.

11. Family

It is the sentimentality of this one that earns a spot here. After 15 years without contact, I found Carolina who used to take care of me when I was a child. She has welcomed me into her home, and the coffee above was drunken at her parents house who also remember me from my early years. Nescafé proved a very fitting piece of this encounter, and it was paired with a homemade slice of cake.

Then... And now...

12. Morning

I filtered some leftover barista coffee through paper towels for this cup, and enjoyed a view of the city over avocado and eggs. It was a perfect start to yesterday.

14. Cafe Mosqueto

Niko and i hit the town and splurged on this decadent sugar coated coffee. The ambiance again was a key seller to this cafe. The coffee... Mas o menos.... I do not know if I will be following trip advisor any more, however.

15. The Coffee Machine

As I have written all of this, I have been sipping in coffee that was made through the coffee machine. What a strange and wonderful phenomenon to be able to sit and type while a partially inanimate object prepares your daily dose of caffeine. As the cars drive by, I catch glimpses of American songs playing too loudly from the speakers. Yet, the city seems calm at his hour, and I am about to embark on a pancake making mission. 

For those of you who wonder what I do at cafés, here is a sketch of Castro from one of my notebooks. I find time in the cafe to be productive when necessary as well as a wonderful time to look friends and strangers in the eyes and talk about the worlds in which we are living.

I also want to thank my family, namely my dad for making this trip possible for me. I am unbelievably grateful, and the coffee is truly the only thing I have to complain about. In two months I have had less than 10 cups of good coffee, but have had a lifetimes worth of incredible experiences.

That being said...

California, I am coming home. See you in two weeks.

Love, Amor, y besitos,

Hannah Osita

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