The enjoyment of this coffee for the locals is not due to the economic benefit it brings. In a land where tea culture is deeper than any outsider can truly understand, tea is the sacred part of culture where relationships are forged, broken, and deals are made. It is an event that is to be stretched over a long period of time…to rush the process is to dishonor the relationship of the person you are sharing tea with. In a small town on a small island in the South China Sea – Xinglong, Hainan – coffee has been able to replace tea in this pivotal part of the culture. This is where we get the privilege of living. We previously did a post on this coffee but it is still one of the strangest coffees we have ever had. Their method for roasting is to add a local butter, salt, and sugar into a wok with the coffee beans. It is then maintained in canisters or bags in a very oily and burnt form. It is truly a challenge to drink. It can only be consumed small sip by small sip over a prolonged period of time…I guess that is the point.
In many circles, fika is known as coffee with butter in it…but fika is so much more! It is actually a pretty keystone part of Nordic culture. It is time sanctioned off during the day to slow down and enjoy the finer things in life. In the the US, coffee is more about grabbing a boost of caffeine on the way to accomplish a litany of tasks. In Sweden, it is more of an opportunity to slow down and relate with others around you. To learn more about fika, check out this great book: “Functioning as both a verb and a noun, the concept of fika is simple. It is the moment that you take a break, often with a cup of coffee, but alternatively with tea, and find a baked good to pair with it. You can do it alone, you can do it with friends. You can do it at home, in a park or at work. But the essential thing is that you do it, that you make time to take a break: that’s what fika is all about.”
Es Alpukat Coffee
This is a truly unique experience coming out of Indonesia. It is a mix of coffee, avocado, pandan leaf/syrup, and condensed milk. The name means ‘iced avocado’ and is available in most restaurants and many roadside stalls. Many of those have their own localized version of the beverage (vanilla, chocolate, sweetened condensed milk, lime juice, etc). Wherever you travel in Indonesia though, you can find some form of Es Alpukat.
This is a truly unique drink. It was first offered as a street food but has recently made its way into specialty café’s and fine dining establishments. Some Starbucks in Hong Kong even offer Yuenyueng Frappuccinos. The name comes from the Cantonese word for mandarin duck. These ducks are a revered part of Chinese culture because the male and female plumages of the mandarin duck are so different; yet, in the midst of those differences Mandarin ducks mate for life. They are a paradox – a seeming opposite but an obvious pair once united. This is how true Hong Kong locals view coffee and tea.
One of our favorite Hong Kong coffee blogs recently did an interview with Lam Chun Chung, the man who claims that his shop came up with the name that endears the beverage to this day. It is an interesting read, you can access the blog and article here.