Words by Guest Writer Andrew Paszkowski
I’ve been away herding cats and taming crocodiles and have neglected to submit the odd ditty to this very excellent website. My apologies!
A few days ago I came across an extraordinary young fellow by the name of Henry Wilson. Henry is a rare bird who has a passion for one of life’s beautiful vices – coffee. Coffee I hear the rhetorical cries?! Yes, coffee old bean, the real McCoy.
I admit to being a bit of a snob. Okay, you’re right, I’m a monumental snob. I like my cigars Cuban; my whisky of the single malt variety and definitely never spelt with the “e” between the “k” and the “y”; and my coffee, not in a pod but freshly ground and then pumped through at precisely 15 bar to produce a smooth, aromatic and velvety liquor, with a layer of la crema on top. It’s the cha cha cha that gets me going in the morning and sustain me during the day. I’m a coffee drinking maniac!
It annoys me, but I acknowledge it as a clever marketing ploy, that Nestlé refers to their Nespresso coffee pods as being Grand Cru Classé, implying that they have been produced by some exclusive single estate moated with an appellation contrôlée. I confess to owning a Nespresso machine in our apartment in Andorra and quite enjoy the coffee although I cannot tell the difference between the various coloured pods. I suspect it is not only because I’m colour blind. Rest assured that in London, I am a proud owner of a Jura Coffee machine, which freshly grinds the beans for each cup and consistent produces the most beautiful fragrant, crema headed espresso this side of Milan.
For many years, my favourite coffee has been Chagga which comes from the foothills of Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. I learned about Chagga from Len Deighton’s triple trilogy featuring the cold war spy Bernard Samson. His pompous boss, Dicky Cruyer, always buys his coffee from H R Higgins in Duke Street, Mayfair. Chagga is introduced in the first book of the Trilogy, Berlin Game: Dicky brews a fresh cup of Kibo Chagga for Bernard who responds with the immortal line “Nescafé all tastes the same to me.” For a put down, Game, Set and Match I say to Bernard! H R Higgins is still around today, and is the purveyor of fine coffees and teas to Her Majesty the Queen and well worth a visit.
So back to Henry who is no mere Barista. Henry is a real coffee Aficionado which allows him to drink his coffee, when he is “cupping”, with a hideous slurp as he evaluates the aroma –sweet, spicy, nutty… the acidity – nippy, tangy, tart… the fruit – buttery, caramel, chocolate… the finish – sharp, smooth, silky. You can learn more about Henry’s passion for coffee by taking a wander around his very interesting website, the Perfect Daily Grind (http://perfectdailygrind.com/).
Back to the price of bread, so what you may say? Well, Henry has discovered an excellent source of coffee from Cuba. Wow! And now, mere mortals like us can buy it on line from Alma de Cuba (http://www.almacuba.com/). Two variants are offered: the Expresso and Gourmet, and the price is pretty good too! The Expresso costs £14 per kg and the Gourmet £20 per kg (about a week’s supply for me). There is a small extra to pay for postage. Making the most appalling noise, like the proverbial camel forced to drink from the well using two large bricks, I’ve cupped and sampled both coffees, and ladies and gentlemen, the Espresso, to coin a Cuban phrase is los testículos de perro!
My dilemma – which cigar should I choose to sample a Cuban with a Cuban? In my humble humidor I have the remnants of a box of Montecristo Number 2 (massively wonderful), the magnificent aged La Gloria Cubana Tainos or the sublime Cohiba Siglo V? ARH&%$! The pressures of the World, which should I choose? Where are those cats and crocodiles when you really need them…?(!)