My husband and I shared a very memorable coffee experience just inside Bab Bou Jeloud (the Green Gate) in Fes, Morocco in 2009. A leisurely cup of coffee at a local establishment, coupled with people watching, is one of our preferred activities, at home and abroad. As you enter the medina through the gate, directly on your left are some simple tables and chairs under a roof, a counter with an ancient, authentic Rancillio, and an old Moroccan man, brewing the most amazing coffee experience. There were no foreigners at this coffee establishment. Just a few local men. And us. With our steaming cups of espresso with milk – which seemed to be the one way he was preparing coffee at that hour of the morning. If I remember correctly, it cost us about a dollar.
While sipping our drinks in the shadow of the gate, we observed an exclusive tour group of three individuals, complete with bodyguards, enter the medina. We saw several donkeys lumbering slowly down into the tangle of dark streets carrying tremendous loads. Children ran here and there. A musician strummed his instrument. The colorful vibrancy of fabrics, walls, tiles and humanity surrounded us. The entire experience is cemented in our memories. Yes, we don’t like to miss the opportunity for special coffee time and have incorporated our children into this ritual.
This February we spent a weekend in Mexico. We brought along our own coffee, knowing a cafe would not be easily accessible. After setting out the mugs on our veranda overlooking the Sea of Cortez, our two-year-old sat down, patiently waiting for “coffee time.” Her coffee usually consists of a small cup of warm milk with a teaspoon of espresso mixed in. Just enough to acquire the taste without sugar, but not enough caffeine to do damage. “Where’s my teeny cup?” she asked. Uh-oh. At home she has a special cup for coffee. This is what she expects at home and apparently what she has come to expect when we travel. Most coffee shops accommodate us by providing an empty espresso cup into which I pour her “coffee.” This was not possible from our lodging in Mexico. She was remarkably flexible and was satisfied with sips from a larger cup, savoring the experience along with her parents and our unobstructed view of the ocean. Though there were no donkeys, vendors, musicians or throngs of humanity, it was yet another memorable coffee moment.