Coffee is best enjoyed in a glass or a mug, preferably sitting down. You can also have a quick espresso standing up while rushing in the morning, but it’s nicer to sip it while sitting at the table with a friend, or reading the paper, or listening to music. I don’t recommend drinking coffee while listening to the news or surfing the Internet on your computer or phone – you won’t get the same relaxing effect.
Just to be fair – especially nowadays, when any preference for one thing over the other is liable to be extremist and exclusionary – I will note that there are some people who prefer tea to coffee. I have nothing against them, but somehow I find that generally they are not among my closest friends.
Of course, there are gradations when it comes to coffee too. It’s no surprise that when you pour boiling water over that grayish-brown powder that is sold under the name of coffee, what you get is bland-tasting, brownish water that smells like disinfectant. In Israel we call this instant coffee nes-café (“miracle coffee”). I’d say it’s a miracle that anybody drinks this tasteless stuff rather than a decent cup of coffee.
My rule of thumb goes as follows: If no very dark and grainy paste remains on the bottom of the cup, the kettle or the macchinetta, then the drink should not rightly be called coffee.
I myself will always go for a good Turkish coffee over a bland espresso from the office machine. For something I’m going to be ingesting at least five times a day, sometimes as many as ten, I try to obtain really good beans, or excellent ground coffee, and I prepare the drink carefully and properly. Sometimes, drinking it will help a clear and important thought to take shape; other times, it helps dispel an anxiety or fear that has been festering for too long. Stop for a moment and smell the coffee, and only then sit down to sip it with pleasure. The experts have yet to discover that it is harmful, so for now they’re okay with us drinking it to our heart’s content, and in public places to boot.
Chicken with beer and coffee
This is one of my favorite chicken recipes. The chicken marinates in the beer and coffee for a long time to absorb the flavor, and what you get is a dark and juicy chicken, with a slightly meaty, bittersweet flavor. The lemon placed inside the chicken during roasting helps to maintain freshness, so the meat comes out very tender. You can also add to the marinade hot chili pepper, or a teaspoon of cocoa, for a very Central American flavor.
This is a rich, soft challah, with a touch of tangy coffee flavor. Eat it warm, spread with butter or chocolate spread, or use it to make a sandwich with sour cream and chives. Make the espresso to put in the challah just before you need it, and cool it with a little water before adding to the dough. For a stronger coffee taste, substitute some of the water for another shot of espresso. Another option is to add two tablespoons of fine-quality cocoa to the dough before kneading, for a mocha-chocolate flavored challah.
Chicken with beer and coffee
330 ml tasty dark beer
5-7 shots of espresso
2 tbsp sugar
3 sprigs thyme
4 bay leaves
8 allspice berries
2 large chickens (1.5-2 kilos each)
2 whole lemons
1 scant tbsp salt
1 kilo flour
1 ½ tbsp dry yeast
6 heaping tsp sugar
150 ml espresso
240 ml tepid water
75 gr butter
Chicken with beer and coffee
In a deep bowl, combine the beer, coffee, sugar, thyme, bay leaves and allspice. Season with a little salt and a generous amount of black pepper.
Rinse the chickens and pat them dry with paper towels. Place each chicken in a pan, lying on its back. Gently insert your fingers between the skin and the meat of the breast via the neck area and separate the skin from the meat all over the chicken, taking care not to break the skin. When you’re done, salt the chicken atop and under the skin, and inside.
Transfer the chickens to the beer and coffee marinade and massage the chickens well with the marinade. Place them in the marinade breast side down, cover with tight plastic wrap and refrigerate for an hour. Then turn the chicken over and cover it again and refrigerate for another hour or two. Repeat this process for several hours, or even overnight.
When ready to roast the chicken, rinse and scrub the lemons, then place one inside each chicken and truss the legs and wings tightly with string.
Place the chickens in a deep baking pan and pour the marinade around. Cover the pan with aluminum foil and roast in a preheated 180-degree Celsius (356 degrees Fahrenheit) oven for 45 minutes, breast up. Then uncover the pan and baste the chicken with the juices that have collected in the bottom of the pan. Cook for another 15 minutes or so, until the skin is a dark brown color. Carefully turn the chicken over so that it is breast down, and roast for another 10 minutes or so. Then turn the chicken over, turn off the oven, and wait five more minutes with the oven door shut.
Serve the chicken whole, with white rice or spicy beans.
Place the salt in the food processor bowl. Sift the flour over it and then sprinkle on the yeast and sugar. Combine the espresso and water, pour the liquid over the flour and let sit for about five minutes.
Melt the butter and let it cool a little. Beat two of the eggs and slowly add the butter to them. Add this mixture to the mixing bowl and mix with the dough hook for 10 minutes, until the dough is very soft and pliant.
Remove the dough from the mixing bowl and continue kneading by hand for five more minutes. If necessary, add a little water or flour, just enough to be able to keep working the dough, but making sure it remains relatively soft. Shape the dough into a ball, return to the mixing bowl, cover with tight plastic wrap or a damp towel and let rise until it doubles in volume – about an hour or an hour and a half.
When the dough has risen, punch it down with your hands and divide into three parts. Roll each part into a long thin strand and then braid the three strands together nicely. Transfer the challah to a pan lined with baking paper, cover the pan once again with plastic wrap or a damp towel and let rise again for another half hour.
Beat the third egg well with a teaspoon of water and brush onto the challah. Place the pan in a preheated 190-degree Celsius (374 degrees Fahrenheit) oven and bake for 25 minutes, until the challah is glossy brown and firm.
Remove from the oven and let cool just a little. Serve with plenty of butter or chocolate spread, and a cup of coffee.