Monday, September 17, 2007

A tribute to one of my great loves.

Aren't you just dying to know what this great love of mine is? It's coffee. Beautiful, fragrant, rich coffee. Ever since my mother gave me my first sip of coffee when I was in kindergarten (she let me taste the mysterious substance out of her thermos when she was waiting with me for class to start), I've loved coffee. But don't worry, I didn't start drinking it regularly until about eighth grade! When I was in college I finally landed my dream job of Starbucks barista. Next to teaching, it was the best job I ever had! Not only did I get tons of free coffee, but I learned to appreciate the different types of coffee out in the world. You know how you always hear people say things like "bold", "nutty", or "fruity undertones" when they discuss coffee? Haven't you always secretly thought that they were just trying to sound cool, and really all coffee tastes the same? Well I'm telling you, there's something to all of that coffee mumbo jumbo, and a true coffee connoisseur must learn to discern the differences between various types of coffee.

Now, a word on the state of coffee in Taiwan. The Taiwanese seem to be going caffeine crazy. If you walk into 7-11, you will see TONS of coffee drinks on the shelves. However, much of the coffee here is an assault to the highly developed palate of the coffee connoisseur, because to many people here coffee is more of a cultural curiosity than a real way to wake up in the morning (and experience pleasure while doing it). This is especially evident when you look at the opening hours of Starbucks in Taiwan. They don't open until 9 or 10 AM! In the U.S. they open at about 4:30 AM because it's a well-known fact that coffee is a part of the everyday lives of Americans. Here a coffeehouse is more of a trendy place to meet friends and socialize. Based on what my students tell me, most people in Taiwan still drink tea to wake up in the morning. Warning: Everything I just wrote is based on conjecture, and I may have this all wrong.

Finally, for any coffee lovers reading this and thinking of coming to Taiwan, here's my opinion of the most common coffee shops in Taipei. Be aware that I'm not that adventurous with coffee and I tend to stick with what I know is good. Also, I can't remember all of the isolated times I've visited independent coffee shops, so this list is limited to the well-known chains.

Starbucks: I don't care how trendy and expensive it is, I like their coffee. It's a waste of money to drink it every day, but I do use their coffee beans at home. Also, I really believe that they treat their coffee growers fairly, and you can't be sure of that with every company out there. You will see that in Taiwan their isn't as big of a selection on the menu, mostly because the really popular sweet drinks in the U.S. aren't offered here. They would never sell, because most Taiwanese people don't like super sweet stuff.

eCoffee: This place is cheap, but the coffee is absolutely terrible!

7-11 City Cafe: Not as good as Starbucks, but for the price it isn't bad. They have the typical black coffee (sugar and cream optional), latte, iced latte, and cappuccino. If you want cheap coffee on the go, I recommend going here rather than eCoffee.

Barista: More expensive than Starbucks if you can believe it! There beans are cheaper, but not as good as Starbucks beans. The drinks aren't bad, but not worth the price.

Dante: The drinks are okay, and not as sweet as the way Starbucks makes them. At first they seem cheaper, but they give you a practically microscopic cup. When you actually analyze what you're getting for the price, the price isn't much better than Starbucks.

85 Degree: I like their coffee for the price. The only problem is so does everyone else! There's usually a long line (at least at the ones in Taipei), and the service has been slow at the ones I've visited.

I haven't tried Is Coffee, but a friend told me they're terrible. I also haven't tried McDonalds coffee, but I hear they're good for a quick, cheap cup. If anyone else has any opinions about coffee in Taiwan, you're welcome to send a comment. Now I would like to end this post with a funny link I found in praise of coffee. Please note that I don't actually sit at home and praise coffee in a worshipful way -- I only worship God. So obviously, what you find at this link is not meant to be taken seriously. =)

12 comments:

  1. I love this info! Thanks!
    I have no plans to come to Taiwan but I find it all very interesting- especially since it's about coffee!

    I don't praise coffee either...I praise AND coffee!
    :)

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  2. I actually am rather "un-American"....maybe I always knew I'd end up in a foreign country....I dislike coffee very much - I can't even stand the taste of coffee-flavored cake or cookies, ick. But I LOVE tea - red tea, black tea, oolong tea, green tea, milk tea, you get the idea ;)

    I hope you can find some good coffee sometime.

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  3. I don't know how to stick my response comment underneath the comment I want to respond to, so I'll just respond to both of the above comments now (I'm such a nerd).

    Sue,

    You never know ... you just may want to visit the beautiful island of Taiwan one day, and then I can take you to all the good coffee shops to get your "praise and coffee" on! =)

    Sandy,

    I don't think you're un-American, just strange for not liking coffee. Ha, ha...just kidding! I actually like tea too, but it's not enough to get me going in the morning. I just like tasting all the different flavors of tea in Taiwan. The flavors of tea in Asia seem more subtle than the ones in the West, don't you think?

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  4. I love coffee . . . but it is an area where I remain quite ignorant. I would love to learn more--I just need me a teacher.

    Do yall have 85degree shops up that way? They are all over the place down here and are quite popular--probably more well known for their fancy little cakes than their coffee though.

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  5. Amanda,

    I totally forgot about 85 degree! I'm going to add my opinion about them to the post. I don't really know as much about coffee as I probably make it sound, it's just fun to act like I do!

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  6. What a fun post! I to enjoy my coffee...though I don't think I have your expertise ;-)

    Very interesting about culture and coffee-very cool to get a glimpse into coffee in Taiwan!

    We have a coffee make that uses K-cups and gives you a very quick tasty cup of coffee in seconds, always fresh, always quick. My husband bought 2 one for his office and one for home....really it hasn't helped my "addiction" with a drawer full of Italian Espresso, Dark Blend, Breakfast Blend, Decaf, ....hard to say no.

    Thanks for popping into my blog...I am so excited to have a new friend in Taiwan (how cool is God!)

    Going to enjoy a second cup and then get our "school" (homeschool) on the road.

    Tomorrow we get our 11 week old respite (babysitting a foster baby) back for 6 days...need to get tons of stuff done around here before she arrives. Friday we have a family birthday party for my 13 year old daughter....not sure what I was thinking in scheduling the party while we had "the sleepless" babe, but trusting that God will Grace me for what is needed!

    blessings to you!

    Kimmie
    mama to 6
    one homemade and 5 adopted

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  7. Kimmie,

    Thanks for stopping by! I did find your blog to be very enjoyable to read. I love reading about what's going on with all of those kids. How do you do it??? Anyway, I don't know as much about coffee as my post would probably suggest. It's just fun to act like a coffee snob sometimes!

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  8. Really enjoyed reading this post. I'm a huuuuge coffee fanatic, and am unashamedly adicted! :) Ecuador has very good coffee, though most people prefer the cheaper brands or the instant stuff. For about $4/lb I can buy the best of the best. There are many coffee shops all over the city, and coffee drinking is big here. Thanks for the info on where to go in Taiwan if we ever get over that way!

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  9. guymuse,

    I have heard that Ecuador has good coffee. Lucky you! =)

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  10. I came over from Sue@ praise and coffee...which is funny even with this post. I have never been a coffee fan! But I have been peeking at your blog and I find it a delight.

    I home school my kids and I love the idea of *visiting* a place with another's eyes instead of reading from a book.

    So far I have really enjoyed the posts that you have written,
    I have several blogs to keep all my thoughts from congesting my mind, so feel free to visit.

    penofjen.blogspot.com is my main blog and I have a caption contest every Tuesday.

    So forgive me for running on, have a wonderful day!
    Jennifer
    New Mexico

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  11. Interestingly ehough, I actually did notice how many coffee houses were popping up all over Taiwan last summer! The branding of Starbucks has been pretty amazing in Taiwan. But also kind of odd that the older Taiwanese population, maybe in their 50s and 60s were drinking Starbucks purely for the brand itself and to experience the 'starbucks craze', which is absolutely fine as well. However, when I'm in Taiwan, I tend to stay away from the coffee since the selection of bottled drinks at 7-11 is something I cannot deny!

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  12. Amy,

    The choices at 7-11 are truly mind baffling! I go there often too.

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