Coffee culture around the world

MILAN

La Rinascente” – Milan – by Claudia Sarti, writer

There are many different kinds of coffee: The one that you need, the one that you want and the one you’ll use as an excuse.

The one that you need is the one you have in the morning, and I’m not saying you need it for the caffeine, but it’s just the watershed between “I’m sleeping” and “I’m not sleeping anymore but I’m still as dazed” The one that you want because you really want it is practically non-existent: I love coffee, but unfortunately this specific kind is only to be seen in adverts for decaf, really. The one you’ll use as an excuse will lead you to many fantastical places, places you would never even walk in if it wasn’t for your sudden need for the loo. Expensive looking places where coffee is the only item in the menu you can actually afford and you feel like showing off in front of someone. And these three kinds can be easily applied to all the coffees in the world.

Milan is in Italy and usually coffee in Italy is seen as a cornerstone.

If I would have to suggest a good place, even if it might ring as touristic, I would go for LaRinascente, in piazza del Duomo. It has a terrace that fronts the intricate spires of the Duomo up close. You can even smoke there and when you can smoke the quality of the actual coffee is irrelevant. If you want a really good coffee you can go downstairs to Camparino in the galleria, a caffeine fuelled ‘way of the cross’ that is worth two of the best euros you’ll spend at LaRinascente.

But again, I’d go in the worst of cafes, as long as they have tables outside.

NEW YORK

Tea Lounge” – New York – by Anna Friemoth, photographer

This scruffy late night hideout is densely populated with freelance food writers, moms, and the occasional newly graduated freelance photographer desperately trying to promote her Tumblr through the cafe’s arguably strong wifi connection. I speak of the strength of the wifi connection before the strength of the coffee out of consideration of this city. Because we are in New York, where coffee culture is polluted by the lonely plight of the freelancer. The Tea Lounge, however, diminishes this plight into something quite manageable, and dare I say, something quite comfortable. And by comfortable I mean sinking deep into your grandmother’s already sunken corduroy La-Z-Boy while sipping on your favorite organic herbal mint tea with the lights dimmed and Drake singing gently into your ear “don’t think about it too much too much too much.” However unlikely, if you end up in the Tea Lounge on a Saturday night, you will be gently greeted and later served by two men who are as naturally distressed as the Tea Lounge’s assortment of second hand furniture. Either an ever-drunk, yet charming man with his long dark hair divided into pig tail buns, or the easygoing blonde guy who later tells you he is, indeed, the drummer for the Dirty Projectors.

PARIS

Le Cafe Marly” – Paris – by Levi G. Malfatti, Interior Designer to the stars

If I were to tell you a lie, I would tell you that I don’t remember the first time I visited Le Cafe Marly. But my mother brought me up an honest man, and what I will tell you is the naked and solid truth: Eight years ago, after a champagne-fuelled magazine launch at the Ritz (and after a merciless dinner at La Castiglione, on Rue Saint-Honoré) Lars Thomsen Thomsen and me simultaneously decided to have a little stroll to cool down and wear off the cruel grips of French bubbles from our minds. In the sweet air of a July evening, Paris took us (as she does with many a wanderer, I have recently found out) to Le Louvre: A welcoming moloch that sits still in my favourite strip of Rue de Rivoli, just before the sizzling grandeur of Place de la Concorde. Café Marly is comfortably nestled under the arches in the right wing of Le Louvre and both Lars Thomsen Thomsen and me thought it would have been a good idea to sit, and enjoy the prime view of the glossy, glistening pyramids in the courtyard. “Deux Irish Coffees, s’il vouz plait”, I asked the young waiter, as the evening was growing chilly.

I wanted a coffee, a drink and a dessert, and the option of an Irish coffee surprisingly ticked all the boxes. After one, I remember I wanted another one. Lars Thomsen Thomsen agreed, so we got some more: Its thick sweetness an its alcoholic percentage proved fatal. There you go, I’ve said it. I’m an honest man. I would tell you a lie if I would tell you I don’t remember the first time I have been to Cafe’ Marly. But I feel very much inclined to tell the truth, and there is absolutely nothing false in saying I remember arriving and ordering my very first drink.

But to be honest, there is absolutely nothing true in saying I remember how long I stayed or how I got back home either.

LONDON

Dean Street Townhouse” – London – by Agatha McCloud, international Bon Vivant

Don’t get me started honey.

I would die to have some good coffee culture in London: I’ve always said it. Everytime I’m in Vienna, Capri or St.Tropez I always think how grand would it be to have such continental culture in London. But in the ‘big smoke’, as you youngsters call it, I can never find the right spot where to be seen sipping on whatever tea or coffee is on vogue at the time, sharing hot gossips with my dear friends Julian Fellowes or Joanna Lumley. The only place that lets this old soul enjoy some coffee en plain air, has to be Dean Street Townhouse in the pulsating heart of London’s SoHo. I have been a smoker since Jane Shrimpton advised me against it in the early sixties and I really do find it disheartening to not be able to smoke whenever and wherever I want to. But at Dean Street I can easily sit outside, come rain or shine and enjoy the full blast of the heaters right on top of my head, making me feel the way I felt the first time Halston took me out for dinner.

Americanos taste just fine, not even close to the ones at Villa Ducale in Taormina, but pretty decent for English standards. They’re hot and they give you that rush of caffeine-induced excitement. Just the same effects one gets get when over-hearing the lurid conversations drifting quietly from the tables nearby. And listen young man sitting next to me, take the advice from a lady who has seen the world, he’s not too old; he’s just not rich enough.

Originally published on Lujon Issue 1

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