9 September 2013
Last night my wife and I went to a lovely little restaurant with a group of friends. The meal was fantastic, the wine was flowing and as we came to the end we were asked if we desired any coffee. Little was I to know that such a simple question would lead to one of the most fascinating discussions I have had in a long time. I thought I would share this with you and then pass on some great tips on where to find the perfect coffee in Malta.
Coffee is a fruit; the bean is actually the pit of a red or purple cherry or berry. Legend has it that in the 9th century an Ethiopian goat herder, named Kaldi, discovered coffee completely by accident after he noticed how crazy the berries were making his goats.
Curious by their increase in energy, he chewed on the fruit himself and his exhilaration prompted Kaldi to return the berries to an Islamic monk in a nearby monastery. The monk disapproved of Kaldi's discovery and threw the berries into a fire, from which an enticing aroma was released and filled the air. The roasted beans were quickly raked from the fire, ground up and dissolved in boiling water, producing the first cup of coffee the world had ever seen. Little did Kaldi know that 1000 years later 2.25 billion cups would be drunk every day!
In the 1600's milk was first added to a cup of coffee by a French doctor suggesting ‘Cafe Au Laits’ for his patients. This inspired the people and quickly caught on around the world. Around the same time there was some controversy over whether or not Catholics should drink coffee. Fortunately Pope Clement VIII enjoyed his caffeine and claimed that it was Okay. Coffee is psychoactive, in high doses it can cause you to hallucinate and in very high doses it can actually kill you. The lethal dose of caffeine is roughly 100 cups of coffee.
The Americans got their first taste of the coffee bean in the 1700's, and it quickly replaced their previous breakfast drink of choice, beer. Nowadays Hawaii is the only state that commercially grows coffee and the folks in New York drink almost 7 times more of the stuff than any other city in America.
Of course the Maltese also know how to make a good cup of the brown stuff. I can't say I have visited every cafe and been served by every barista in Malta but I do have a few recommendations.
Valletta is bustling with thousands of tourists, working professionals and locals and a good cup of coffee is required by most. Fortunately there are quite a few places that make a really decent cup and I suggest seeking out the listed venues below for your routinely caffeine fix.
When in Sliema, ‘Cafe Ole'’ is notorious for making a brilliant espresso, and its customers agree, many returning daily for their morning fix. In Paceville ‘I Monelli’ will never disappoint and finally the Palazzio Parisio in Naxxar makes a fantastic cup of coffee, complementing its beautiful surroundings.
So remember wherever you are to espresso yourself. Its better latte than never, always take life one cup at a time and friends don't let friends drink bad coffee.