Amid all this seriousness, it is undeniably necessary to remember those things that truly bring us pleasure, be it intellectual, physical, or even of the kind that cannot be easily explained, that is felt at some deep, soul-intoxicating level.
Did I ever mention that I love coffee?
Yes, many times. Perhaps reduntantly. This I know, yet shamelessly I plunge forth once again.
Let’s see, aside from the coffee that I love here in Minneapolis (though we do pay for our passion, I’m afraid), I’d have to say that the best coffee I have experienced has been inÂ Aceh, Indonesia, Vietnam, and Aceh, Indonesia. I’ve never been to Europe, of course, so I cannot testify beyond the Asian coffee/kaphe/cafei/kopi experience.
In Indonesia as well as in Vietnam, the act of drinking coffee, which is an almost exclusively social act, is perhaps one of the main reasons why their versions of this drink of the caf’ed out gods is so memorable. In Vietnam, you find yourself in a wide range of coffee shops, from quite fancy to little plastic stools on the sides of busy roads, watching the coffee drip patiently down from the distinctive filter, plucking cubes of ice from a communal bucket. In Aceh, however, the kedai kopi, or coffee shop, is as much the realm of political activism and social organizing as it is of leisure. Today, only a few years after the end of the province’s bloody thirty year war of autonomy from the rest of Indonesia, the battle between independence and allegiance to Jakarta are still fought, only now it is in the kedai kopi, and the weapons are words, instead of in the jungles of sumatra with guns and bombs.
Another notable feature of Indonesian kopi: during the magical process that brings the coffee from the plant to your stomach, it comes into contact with ganja, which grows voraciously in the North Sumatran province. The ingredient’s purpose is ambiguous, especially given that Aceh is probably the home of the strictest Muslim culture in all of SouthEast Asia – though they contend it is for taste. In any case, during my time there, I couldn’t understand why each cup left me loving the brew even more and craving yet another. Then I found out why…
This is a picture of an Indonesian woman cooking pasta, which really has nothing to do with coffee. Well, maybe a little bit. Indonesia has good coffee, and cooking is also a pleasure-inducing act, just like drinking coffee!