Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Musings on Coffee

Even though I don’t really think that the caffeine has much of an effect on me, I will be the first to admit that I am completely in love with coffee. My mornings, especially the early ones I’ve been experiencing as of late, are undoubtedly better when they include a cup of freshly-brewed coffee.

Having spent a substantial amount of time in Madrid, I can say with confidence that American coffee has nothing on that of Spain. Granted, coffee quality will vary depending on where you venture in the States. The Bagel Company, for instance, isn't the most elite of coffee stops (sorry, David.) Even so, coffee is just better here.

Some of the best cups of coffee I've ever had.

While the quality of coffee got a whole lot better once I touched down in Spain, that actually isn’t what makes it here so much more wonderful… Well is it the delightfully strong aroma? Nope. How about the endless selection of drinks? Naw. Those little cookie-things they give you to dip in your coffee?? No, though a good guess…

The coffee here is so completely amazing because of the atmosphere in which one consumes it.

Here, coffee isn’t something you drink out of a to-go cup as you run to your next class… Instead, you save it for when you meet up with friends and converse about your day. In Spain, coffee is meant to be shared.

It is over cups of delicious coffee that dreams are spoken out loud, confessions are made, and advice is given. No wonder then that I have yet to see a coffee-drinker on any of my early morning metro rides… Admittedly, this confused me immensely during my first couple weeks here. All these Spaniards couldn't possibly be morning people, could they? But once I had my coffee-epiphany, it all made sense. Spaniards love coffee just as much as Americans; they just treat it differently.

This isn't really that surprising when you think about what motivates our two different cultures. As a whole, Americans are very individualistic and driven by efficiency. Spaniards, in contrast, value community and relationships immensely. Consequently, putting time aside to drink coffee with someone close to you isn't a chore or nuisance, but a joy.

So what’s the take away from this? I’m not saying skip the coffee in the mornings… How else are you supposed to make it through those 8 a.m.s? What I am saying, though, is to not forget to set time aside for the people who are most important to you. Share a cup of coffee (tea, water, etc.) with a friend and sit there for more than just fifteen minutes. Give a little bit of yourself and you will be amazed at what you get back in return.

Until next time friends.



  1. Madeesoooo',
    I am so happy that you are a kindred spirit and appreciate the richness of a European cup of coffee (though I can't imagine it would be difficult to fall in love with); moreover, I love that you already are disfrutando del tiempo pasado con unos queridos. The hours spent with a friend over a cup of coffee is some of the most cherished time in our lives. Is there a an afternoon coffee session when many usually are out? xo

  2. Madison,

    I really enjoyed this blog! It is so interesting to see how each culture spins such a simple thing in life (coffee) into their own ways and traditions. I have traveled to Paris, France and I saw the same type of behavior among the natives there. In Paris, even in December when I was there, the French people sat outside under heated awnings... do the Spaniards do anything like this?

    Enjoy your time!!

  3. Dearest Madison,

    First of all, I hope you're having an excellent time in Spain! Your coffee experiences sound much better than mine have lately, as I have been using this delicious beverage solely so I can remain awake and write lab reports. Do any Spanish students you have met still use coffee this way or is it purely for special occasions? Moreove, how do you take your coffee, and what is the cup of choice in Spain?


  4. Madison,
    I love this outlook and all that you pulled even from a simply cup of coffee. This proves that we really can learn anything from anywhere. What other experiences have you had that reinforce the friend and family focus that contrasts the time focused lives we live in the USA?

    Wishing you the best!

  5. Madison,

    While I am not much of a coffee drinker, this post almost changes my mind. (By the way you write beautifully...Yes. I am an English Major.) What I find so unique about this post is that it resembles a conversation we had in our LEAD class. As you noted, Americans tend to focus on time while Spain focuses on relationships. However, in America our generation is becoming more and more relationship and family oriented--do you see any "millennial" traits in Spain?

  6. Dear Madison,
    First of all, as the other comments have told you, your writing is beautiful. Thank you for sharing this. I took Spanish in high school and have fallen in love with the culture. After reading your blog, I've been wondering about the differences in Spain's culture and North America's. You mentioned that it was how we look at the world, we taking a more individualized look while they take a more relationship focused look.
    As a theatre major, i am surrounded by people who drink nothing but coffee. Let's face it, staying up till four to paint a set and then having an eight a.m., you need something to help you through. However, when these people decide to get coffee, it isn't a individualized task. The whole department tends to flock to a nearby coffee house in order to restore themselves. Even for the people like myself, who don't drink coffee, we still know to buy something. We all are aware that this is a social event as well as a restoration.
    Maybe the theatre department has a more Spanish view on ho to view the world than the rest of campus.
    Tiene un tiempo bueno.

  7. Madison,

    After experiencing this idea of "coffee time" in Spain, will it be difficult to have coffee the more rushed and American way when you return? Drinking coffee sounds so romantic by the way you've written about it. Are you planning on bringing back this Spanish tradition to the States and sharing it with your loved ones? I want to join!

    Sigma's Love and Mine,

  8. I thought this was interesting. I am a huge coffee fan and I think they way most of Europe enjoys coffee is so different then ours. It seems like part of our go-to attitude in America, we never just sit and enjoy something so simple as coffee. Instead it is a means to the end goal of waking up. The pictures of the coffee are beautiful. They just make me want to hop on a plane just to get a cup of coffee!