Saturday, July 28, 2018

Puebla: a week of coffee shops

7/23 - Day #1: MondayThe Italian Coffee, (I know, a chain, but it seems to be popular here.) At the corner of 16 de Septiembre across from Jardín de Carmen Americano. Watching amistad in action as five middle-aged men chat while drinking their coffee. Amistad ... friendship ... Mexico has a long history of oppression where friends and family were the first line of defense. Therefore, spending time with friends has become a vital part of their culture.

As I observe the morning, the first man leaves the table of five. He carefully shakes hands with all the others, making comments to each. Later a woman joins a different group, giving a deep hug to one friend and then a hug and cheek kiss to each person at the table. When leaving people hug and kiss again. On the streets as they’re parting, another hug and polite kiss. Best observation place. ****

7/24 - Day #2: TuesdayTarlets Coffee near the Zocalo got me with their motto: “The best coffee is the coffee you like.” Since it was in English, it must appeal to English-speaking tourists. At 9 am, the place is empty. Lovely lemon tart. Somewhere back in history I read about a study that claimed eating chocolate cake early in the day helped people lose weight. I dismissed it as fake science, but have decided to test the theory that something sweet with coffee might not be a horrible way to start the day. Loud, jarring music, Tiny cups but real cream. Interesting art. Loud traffic. ** (Neither Google Translate nor I know what their tagline means. ;-) 

7/25 - Day #3 WednesdayCatalina … funny little place … walk in downstairs, tables upstairs. By myself at 8:30. Lemon cake for breakfast was dense and yummy. Coffee was okay. Nice photos of some onyx lamps. No observation opportunities. **

7/26 - Day #4 ThursdayZaranda, near the Zocalo. After googling "coffee shops" and finding the first three not open, wound up here at a nice table by the window. 8:45 and no one’s here. Pastry selection was almost nil so I will have one I bought at the local panaderia … which, of course, just flaked all over me and made a mess that clearly showed I had brought my own food in  ... even after an attempt to clean up the damage. There are some quotes on the wall … “Toda gran obra literaria nos propone imaginar." — Carlos Fuentes. Google Translate: Every great literary work proposes to us to imagine.  My take: Every great work of literature aims to make us imagine. ***

7/27 - Day #5 Friday … Café Colibrí on Juarez. I’ve been seeing this chain everywhere. This is a large one but empty right now at 8:30. Having Cafe del Puebla and it is quite good, sweet with spices. Comfortable seating with many choices. Music is not overpowering. Not sure when the people come to fill this large space but it’s now 10 and there is still no one here. A few people have come and gone. Good for studying Spanish but not good for eavesdropping on Spanish since no one's here. Maybe I’ll move on to another place. ***

7/27 - Perro Caffe … on Juarez. A step up: young, hip with creative touches. While it’s a bit English oriented with sayings such as: Creatives working …, Work hard; dream big … Stalk us … the language of conversation is still español so I’m not completely out of immersion.

Turns out this is a franchise from Free & Green, whose tagline translates as “creating experiences” and lists their values as: innovation, humility, honesty, congruency and passion. I love this phrase from their website:  Donde consolidar sus sueños y pensar diferente … which basically means it’s a place where you can bring your dreams together with a different way of thinking. ***** My favorite.

7/27 - Punta del Cielo cafeínabar … on Juarez.  How can you say no to a coffee shop that bills itself as a Point of the Sky? Besides I've decided to finish the final exam of Warren Hardy Book 3 before quitting for the day.

Here I’m trying matcha, cold plus the best pay de límon I’ve had on my travels. Wikipedia explains that matcha is "finely ground powder of specially grown and processed green tea leaves.” Claims are made that it is particularly beneficial to health … "Because matcha is made from high-quality tea, and the whole leaves are ingested, it's a more potent source of nutrients than steeped green tea. ... Another polyphenol in matcha called EGCG has been shown in research to boost metabolism, and slow or halt the growth of cancer cells.”

Somehow, I’m not sure the slightly sweet, milky frappe I was served was particularly healthy, although it was refreshing. 

7/28 - Day #6 Saturday … La Parroquia de Veracruz.  Wanting a full breakfast, I also got a comeuppance. I’ve never been a real coffee aficionado so I normally opt for an “Americano” or a latte if I’m being adventurous. 
After looking at the menu, I opted for a normal coffee, even though the menu used terms I wasn’t used to (I had chosen the Spanish menu). What I saw on the tables around me looked like coffee and milk so that should be okay. What came to my table was a glass with about an inch of dark, strong-looking coffee. I tried to tell the waiter that I didn’t want that … I wanted the coffee/milk looking stuff I saw on other tables. 
I’m sure I saw him do a gringa-eye roll thing. Somehow he managed to convince me that things were going to be okay and shortly thereafter, another waiter arrived with an aluminum teapot and when I asked, “Leche?”, he nodded and proceeded to artfully pour a stream of hot milk into my glass. With some stevia, it turned out to be quite good. 
The feeling of being the country bumpkin only lasted a short while. In case you ever come across the term “lechero,” this may be what you’ll get, although Google Translate thinks it may be a dairy or a milkman. I think milkman may be the idea as there were several guys wandering through the guests with their aluminum pots of hot milk.

The other amusement here was watching a Mexican family trying to get their 3-year old daughter to eat her breakfast, which she refused to do even though it was spaghetti on top of frijoles. Breakfast was good and lots of opportunities to observe life in Mexico. **** 
So, that's it. A week of exploring coffee shops here in Puebla. Searching for new coffee shops pulled me into areas I might not have explored and made me a little more observant.  Not a bad combination and made me think of my friend Lynne Snead, who taught me to like working in coffee shops.

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