The kimchi is great but what the fuck have you done to the coffee? As much as I love Korea their coffee is generally crap! I remember being in E-Marte ten years ago when a working coffee filter machine was on display, it attracted a small crowd. ‘Coffee’ shops at the time were in their infancy and I can remember paying around 4000 Won (£2) for a pretty poor cup. Buying coffee beans or ground coffee was difficult. Today there are coffee shops on every street corner and while their individual atmospheres and ambiances are amazing, the coffee served has usually been castrated. I like my coffee barbaric and with balls! I like it thumping my system first thing in the morning and I like a strong taste and aroma. There is more coffee sediment in the dregs of my one-room coffee cup than in any coffee you will drink in a Korean coffee shop and have you noticed that cafes rarely even smell of coffee!
Recently, I was eating in one of my favourite western style restaurants, New York, New York; you’d be tempted to think they might make a decent coffee, coffee that can put hairs on your chest but an association, however tenacious with the USA, is no guarantee; the most disgusting coffee ever is that muck served in McDonalds, and I don’t particularly rate Starbucks but then the USA has always excelled at reinventing the cultural achievements of other nations and in the process both destroying them and creating some abortion which subsequently becomes a defining icon of US culture. Hershey’s pseudo chocolate, American mustard, hamburgers, hot dog sausages are all abominations recreated for a largely undiscerning population in whose tracks most other nations follow. The hamburger was a respectable food item until the USA assaulted it and much the same can be said of Hollywood’s rape of Charles Dickens, Wells, Wyndham and Golding. There should be a law forbidding the USA from cultural rape. Yes, they have definitely produced some awesome assets, weaponry for one, but cynicism aside, the Simpsons, Science Fiction, Copland and a string of great authors etc, provide the US with enough credibility without having to recreate the rest of the world in its image.
My New York, New York coffee was served as ‘serbis-a,’ which in Korean means it’s a loyalty perk for which you aren’t billed. Being a regular customer along with my boss and friends, the coffee is generally ‘on the house’ which passifies me as I’d hate to pay for it. Neither is it cheap and costing about the same price per bag or cup as it does in the UK, makes it an expensive item. It was insipid and looking into the mildly tainted water, I could see the bottom of the mug. I doubt it contained more than a few beans worth of coffee probably dipped in it at that. More disturbing is the fact I find it palatable, even pleasant. The dumbing-down of humanity on a global level is largely facilitated by sweeping aside all forms of discernment. The most successful market is one where consumers seek pleasure in shit, shit at every level. The perfect economy would be one where consumers brains and mouths are simply plugged into a sewer system and subsequently billed for both consuming shit and expelling it. You know discernment is disappearing when you hear kids praise fast food as ‘delicious,’ or claim books are boring, (ie their own imaginations are boring), when it is assumed the opposite of ‘fast food’ is ‘slow food,’ or hear people argue about pop music versus classical music. It’s for this reason I don’t want to enjoy that pseudo coffee as it’s only a step away from being plumbed into a sewer society where everything shit is superior.
I wouldn’t mind the billion other ‘coffee’ products available in Korea if I could actually enjoy a real coffee but, if you don’t approach these beverages with expectations, and that’s the disturbing part, they fulfill the role of most hot or cold drinks. Not including cafe coffee, coffee flavoured beverages appear as instant powders in plastic cups, ready-made in bottles, cans, cartons and plastic cups. Most of the coffee probably contains no more coffee than the banana milk contains banana, but they are quite pleasant. However, some of the bottled and canned versions are revolting. Maxim Espresso T.O.P, ‘Master Blend,‘ has neither the slightest aroma of coffee or is reminiscent of an espresso. Cantata, ‘black, with a hint of sweetness,’ is rank, pure polyphenol in your face and ironically, named after Bach’s Coffee Cantata, Bwv 211, which highlighted the problem of coffee addiction in 18th century, Leipzig, would be enough to terminate any such association. Considering the rather stylish Cantata advert from several years ago, I can’t belief this horrid drink is the advertised product!
Cafe coffee is much better though I have never really had a cup that ‘kicks.’ If I find a coffee insipid I’ll generally add sugar and if I know it’s going to be such I’ll order a fancified one, with milk or laced with some kind of syrup supplement – hazelnut, vanilla or caramel and usually topped in cream which is decorated with a pretty pattern. It’s all a facade to detract you from the fact it’s pretty coffee-less but having a sweet tooth I find these types of drink, basically hot milkshakes, closer to sweets (desserts) than actual coffee.
If you want a partially decent coffee in Korea you have to buy whole beans, avoiding ones drenched in essences, and grind them yourself. Even then there is something missing but it’s minimal enough to fade within a few months taking you one step closer to enjoying chemo-concoctions.
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