Is it my imagination or has the standard of coffee being dished up in our hotels and restaurants taken a real dive recently? Back in the 80s they served up this light brown-coloured dishwater stuff and put in front of tourists and natives alike. It barely had a taste of anything other than boiled water with a delicate suggestion of lightly boiled rags and a soupcon of chicory. As if they had boiled up a dishcloth and carefully collected the water to serve up to their customers as coffee after their dinner. But we didn't know any better back then.
The delicate taste of lightly boiled discloth?
Then in the 1990s things improved immensely. People started to travel to France, Spain, Italy and the USA and discovered what coffee beans roasted and ground and extracted properly in hot water really tastes like. They demanded the same at home. Even small rural bed and breakfasts down the West Coast began putting French style coffee plungers on the morning breakfast table, with real coffee in them, and all was well with the world. Tourists too appreciated the effort. You could go and face the day with a decent shot of caffeine and a taste of Colombia inside you.
Now that we are in the Naughties it seems to me that, in Castlebar at least, good coffee is once again a thing of the past. I was at a meeting in a certain hotel during the week and wondered why everyone was falling asleep during the session after the morning coffee had been served. Coffee should revive a flagging meeting, keeping them alert and getting them productively up to lunchtime. But the coffee served up had that certain lack of ‘je ne sais quoi’. It certainly lacked any trace of caffeine. It was back to lightly boiled dishrags and the weakest spoon of instanto-cheapo-chicory coffee that the catering people can provide in those large drums. It might even have been a drum left over from 1983? Or maybe it was the fourth time the same coffee had been percolated?
Buck Up Your Coffee - When will Starbucks Come to Town?
Even when restaurants dress it up in a glass percolator thingummy you can't fool us - the boiled rags flavour or lack of flavour comes right through and you are left saying: ‘What's that? Where's the caffeine? Where’s my little bit of South America?’
Perhaps it's a health thing - perhaps like Minister McDowell they have something against people going to Colombia and they are trying to get us to cut down on our Colombian intake or have anything to do with the countries of South America that export coffee (amongst other things)?
So a note to hotels and restaurants in Castlebar. Improve the standard of that cup of coffee. (Even Starbucks will make mincemeat of yiz when they arrive with coffee that at least has a kick in it, even if it’s not the greatest taste on the planet.)
Colombia Man is on the run for murdering his first wife after she deliberately provoked him by serving up a cup of Irel Coffee instead of the real thing. Like Lord Lucan he has lived in Castlebar now for quite some time on a false passport. His present wife is unaware of his murderous and revolutionary past and his yen to go back to South America in search of real coffee. His book entitled 'I was a Java programmer and a friend of Che' will be published shortly. He is not to be confused with another member of the revolutionary struggle against weak coffee who felt so strongly about this issue that he is reported to have faked a passport application in order to import coffee into Ireland.