I read a blog a few weeks back, and unfortunately can’t find it again, about how sometimes the best cup of coffee is a bad cup of coffee. I was surprised that I agreed because the best cups of coffee have been bad. The best coffee wasn’t always the fancy artisan blends, but the coffee I needed in the moment.
So, I’m going to talk about the best cups of coffee I’ve had, and stare disdainfully at the empty cup of Nescafe Instant next to me as I do so, and the worst because my god sometimes bad coffee really is bad coffee.
I refer to this one as”Parkway Study coffee”. During the dreaded Leaving Cert my weekends were spent locked in a study hall located next to a shopping centre called the Parkway. Obviously, after studying for hours I was in dire need off caffeine. I looked awful because I had temporarily given up on appearance, I felt awful because I spent my only days off school doing more work. The highlight of my life was taking a 15-minute break where I would crawl to the kitchen with my oatcakes and my coffee as if I was about to literally drop dead without it. This coffee was the cheapest of the cheap, I’m talking literal Euro Shop coffee here ( which surprisingly doesn’t taste bad) and it was perfect. It was just what I needed to warm my soul and prevent me from passing out onto my exam papers.
Bewley’s Hotel Instant Coffee
I’m not overly fond of Bewley’s coffee, I don’t hate it but it’s a bit too acidic for my liking. However, a few years ago on a school trip to Galway as part of an exchange programme, I took to the little sachets of coffee that are a beloved facet of every hotel room. It was divine, for some reason Bewley’s hotel instant is better than a “real” cup you get in a cafe, or maybe there’s something in the air in Galway that makes their coffee better than anywhere else.
The “After a big meal” cup of coffee
There is nothing I want more than oily black coffee after am meal sometimes, usually Chinese. Thankfully most Chinese restaurants have awful coffee! I suppose it’s because the food is bad and therefore the coffee accompanying it should also be bad. Like the coffee, it’s the shit food that’s the best. I think the texture and taste comes from literally sitting in the machine all night. As disgusting as it is, it somehow hits the spot better than desert ever could.
Tim Horton’s Machine Coffee
We don’t have Tim Horton’s cafes in Ireland so I had to get it out of a self-service machine in Spar. Most people I know don’t actually like it, but I love it. I can’t even explain why but those latte’s are to die for, I normally don’t like bitter coffee but Tim Horton’s nails it. Unfortunately, the Tim Horton’s machines have been replaced by an inferior brand, so maybe I’ll just move to Canada.
Edit: I got to go to a real Tim Horton’s cafe in 2018 in New York, read about it here.
Full Board Unlimited Spanish coffee con leche
In my last blogpost I mentioned being in Torremolinos last summer. My parents made the smart decision of going full board in the hotel, which for me meant unlimited free coffee (and alcohol – and on a side note they were generous with their spirit servings). A saying of mine is “free coffee is the best coffee”.
The Spanish do this weird thing where the milk they put into the coffee is warm. All along I’ve believed the purpose of putting milk into coffee is to cool it down, and for taste, so this was peculiar. It grew on me. Despite only being there a week the coffee at home felt weird for a while. I miss the abundance of free coffee every day, and piña coladas by the pool.
The Coffee at Work
I don’t know what coffee we use at work but it is surprisingly good. I normally don’t get to work in the cafe section but they barista trained me so I make myself mochas all day. It makes spending all weekend stuck with screaming drooling kids bearable. A kids play centre is the last place you’d expect good coffee, but it’s the one good thing about the job. One of these days I think I might ask what the beans are and make it at home.
My favourite coffee beans in the world is without a doubt Badger & Dodo beans. I actually asked for a coffee grinder and specifically Badger & Dodo for Christmas this year. Aside from the tattoo kit I got at my dad’s work Christmas party when I was a kid (which to their dismay is probably why I love tattoo’s so much now) I consider it the best Christmas present I’ve ever received.
I fell in love with Badger & Dodo in a beautiful cafe called the Cellar Door. I spent a summer drinking mochas almost every day. It was cosy, unique, and felt like home. Cellar Door has since closed down but it genuinely changed my life. Prior to its existence, I hadn’t much of a social life and next to no friends. I still have the people in my life, but no cup of coffee I made can compare to theirs. So there is a lot of nostalgia here but coffee was genuinely better than any I’ve drunk thus far.
Now to the worst cups of coffee:
You don’t go to Ikea for the food or the coffee, but it was brown water in a Styrofoam cup. I understand that they would be more concerned with their furniture and whatnot, but I had to throw it out.
I’m the type of person who considers it sinful not to finish a cup, so this says a lot.
Grumpy Mule in College
This was not coffee, it was dirt in hot water.
Fancy Hotel Coffee
Earlier this month I was in Dublin for J1 interviews which were in a hotel. I’m not naming and shaming them, but I got up at about 6 am to get the bus to Dublin. I was still sitting in the hotel at 4 pm waiting for my friend to finish up. As you can imagine I was barely conscious. As I approached the bar, my favourite scent hit me and it smelled heavenly.
I paid €3.50 for the smallest Americano I have ever seen. It tasted just as bad as Ikea. I didn’t even get a caffeine kick from it. For some reason, the coffee that smells the best tastes the worst as I remember having high hopes for the Grumpy Mule after how nice the cafe smelt.
Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte
I’ve said before that while Starbucks does a good hot chocolate, their coffee is overrated. A Starbucks opened in town, and curious about the pumpkin pie latte craze I had to try one. I actually love pumpkin spice and make a mean pumpkin spice latte at home. As basic white girl as it may be I was looking forward to this experience. I paid €4 to drink sugar-y milk, I don’t even put sugar in my coffee. I could not taste any coffee or pumpkin spice. I’m not even exaggerating, I felt like my stomach was lined with sugar and wanted to puke for the rest of the day.
Update: Ironically the day after publishing this I got the nerve to try a matcha latte. I actually like green tea, but we have a new winner. It was more revolting than anything I’ve previously drank.
What does coffee mean to you? Is the best cup of coffee a bad cup of coffee?