I love a good coffee – and by good coffee I do not mean ‘international roast’ or ‘caterer’s blend’ but real coffee. At least I can admit it – I am a coffee snob! Don’t get me started on ‘those’ who refer to my beloved brew as ‘eXpresso’, or ‘mug-of-chino’, or heaven-forbid ‘mug of tuna’ (that reference is thanks to my awesome sister-in-law Christy, from her days working in a Naracoorte deli).
My love affair with coffee really began in my childhood when I would occasionally hang out with dad at his workplace, the Naracoorte Hospital, where he was the maintenance manager. He would stop for ‘smoko’ through the day; however, as he was never a smoker, he would have a ‘cuppa’ and a biscuit, so for quite a while, I thought that ‘smoko’ was just a synonym for ‘morning or afternoon tea’.
Asking for smoko at school one day didn’t go down so well.
Later as a teenager I also realised that ‘cuppa’ was a fairly loose term that my parents used to refer to either tea or coffee, and I am ashamed to say, instant coffee for that matter!
As I developed a taste for coffee I managed to transition the family to ground coffee made up in a French press
(otherwise known as a coffee plunger) and started to experiment with grinding my own beans and using Italian coffee makers (Moka pots)
on the stove for a different twist.
Mum and I would share a cup of freshly brewed plunger coffee on my return from school in year 12 and I recall looking forward to this immensely!
I started working in my first job (earning about $6.30/hour) at the Blacksmith’s Cafe in Naracoorte
as a waitress, kitchen-hand and barista, so finally learnt the art of real espresso coffee-making first hand. I was so excited to really know the difference between a macchiato, flat white, short black, long black, cafe latte and a cappuccino.
I feel fortunate that it seems my gradually increasing love for coffee has gone in line with Australia’s growing coffee obsession
– once upon a time it was unheard of to have your own coffee ‘machine’ at home, and now just about everyone has an espresso machine of some description, or at least a plunger somewhere in the house. There has also been an ever-increasing cafe-culture
, especially in Melbourne, which I was grateful to be a part of in recent years. Apps on my iPhone like the ‘Melbourne Coffee Review
‘ and ‘Urban Spoon
‘ were helpful in finding real gems on the coffee scene to enjoy catch-ups with good friends.
I was reminded of the general rule of medical practitioners’ love of this delicious, warm beverage after a Twitter-storm around #BNL2013
– the annual GPRA ‘Breathing New Life into General Practice
‘ conference held in Canberra from 17-19 March 2013. There was a stream of online jealousy as one registrar managed to wrangle himself a nice coffee before the day in Parliament House.
I later added to this by posting a photo of my mid-theatre-list coffee run in Clare:
Coffee addiction and snobbery is rife in medicine – my time in Box Hill Hospital’s emergency department was peppered with coffee runs to Hudson’s at Epworth Eastern across the road. The post ward round wind down was not complete without a corrugated cardboard cup of deliciousness in hand, and how could my co-intern Wen and I have survived our cut-throat surgical rotation (with hours usually from 6am until 7pm) without a (slightly burnt) cup of coffee from the Maroondah Hospital cafeteria? Purchasing coffees in take-away cups is a right of passage in medicine. It is a sign that you’ve made it to paid employment! (Or is it a sign that you’re not getting enough sleep? Quite likely.)
However, I have always found it is a welcome relief – a short break – from the wards or consulting room. It is a good opportunity for bonding time with colleagues and debriefing after a tough day.
“Latte art” is a competitive, passion-driven exercise. I have taken my fair share of photographs of ‘beautiful coffee’ to, dare I say it?…post on Facebook (eek!)…this is not one of mine…
Coffee has even been shown to have several health benefits, as a recent article plugged on Twitter suggested
Finally, a note on drinking soy milk – a part of me cringes & dies each time I ask for a (cue overly camp voice) ‘soy latte’, but this is actually for a ligitimate lactose-digesting difficulty I have developed as an adult (physiologically normal according to Saladin’s Anatomy and Physiology I’ll have you know!)
I am not trying to be even more snobby, metro & annoying by ordering this, so please don’t just make it with regular milk and think I won’t notice. This is (not really) like giving peanut-laiden cakes to a person who has anaphylaxis to peanuts!
I actually drink coffee because I enjoy the flavour and the lovely creaminess of a well-made latte – the caffeine effect from coffee is likely negligible in me now anyway!