Monday, July 21, 2008
COFFEE AT RESTAURANTS
Coffee, in a restaurant, deserves more attention and more respect!
Restaurants usually serve many types of tea. By name.
Blue Hill at Stone Barns actually has a cart with fresh herbs they will bring to your table. You choose the herbs you want. They snip them from the live plants on the cart, and steep them at your table, for a custom cup of tea.
Coffee, however, is served anonymously. "American? or espresso?" "Regular or decaf?" (Maybe, "cappucino?" -- which is just made from the same espresso.) That's all they ask. That's all they tell you. And that's all you can get.
Yet we know, for example from Starbucks or Zabars or Citarella, that there are many types of coffee, roasted differently, from different countries, each with a distinct flavor and of varying strength.
(Oddly, even Starbucks, which has all those varieties of coffee in bags on the shelf, only serves a limited variety of brewed coffee at any one time.)
My first experience with really good coffee in a restaurant was at Arizona 206 (long gone), where I was moved to ask, for the first time in my life, "What is this coffee?" (It came from Kenya.)
A good meal deserves a good cup of coffee. Restaurants (certainly the top restaurants) should have a coffee menu as well as a tea menu. (Varying countries, different roasts, a range of strengths). And for the best results, the coffee beans should be very fresh, recently roasted, ground just before they are used, and the coffee prepared at the table, individually (by French press, for example, or a filter drip). Coffee should be served with a choice of milk, half and half, or heavy cream, or (my favorite) ice cream. A cinnamon stick should be an option.