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December 18th, 2006
Five years ago, it was almost impossible to get a good espresso anywhere in Costa Rica. For a country that grows coffee, I was mystified why no one knew how to brew it.
I grew up with terrible coffee. That’s why I never drank it. The watery cup of java was acidic and bitter. I couldn’t see what my parents saw in it. Then, I discovered espresso. This is how the little bean that lifts us up was meant to be enjoyed. Unfortunately, a huge machine the price of a small car used to be needed to produce this wonderful brew. Only a few could afford it.
Before moving to Costa Rica, I’d spent a lot of time in restaurants and coffee shops. I was so excited to be moving to a country where you could reach out and literally touch the beans. Coffee shops, however, were hard to find. When I found a shop and sat down and ordered, cappuccinos lacked fluff; espressos tasted bitter and never came with the little layer of cream on top that’s absolutely essential in a better than average cup. I’d get so angry at the “blah” brew before me, I wanted to go behind the beverage bar and show them how it was done.
How things have changed. Today I shopped in one of the newest grocery stores to sprout up in a nearby suburb. I walked in. I could have been in Seattle. The upscale look was accompanied by shelves stocked with almost every product one could want.
The sleek grocery store with the high ceilings and warm, Martha-Stewart-colors had an espresso bar 20 feet from the entrance. The women behind the bar wore a uniform of green and white. I suspected they didn’t know much about espresso. But they didn’t need to. That gorgeous stainless steel machine did it all.
I ordered a double espresso, and it was perfect. Bravo. Costa Rica’s moved up a notch in international cuisine. I bit into the wrap I bought at the deli counter, it was terrible. I can see some things are going to take a lot longer to change.Filed under Costa Rica, Expatriate Life, Food and Eating, Humor, Life in Costa Rica, Living in Costa Rica, Susan Lutz (Carmichael) | Comments (8)