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The best cup of coffee you ever had

  • b

For me, it was at L'Ami Louis, in Paris, about fifteen years ago.

After a wonderful lunch, I could hear the chef grinding the beans. Then, a few moments later, I was brought a demi-tasse of the best few sips of coffee I have ever tasted.

It wasn't espresso, it was probably done in a French press. It was the only cup of coffee I have ever tasted that was as good as the aroma that preceded it.

I drank it in a trice and wanted more, but felt guilty about bothering him to make another. Now, I just feel guilty that I didn't.

At the time, there was an ongoing ad campaign for the coffees of Brazil, which I thought may have contributed to this extraordinary brew. I have since come to learn that it probably had little to do with country of origin and everything to do with the wizardry of a chef who was great at everything he did.

What's your best cup?

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  1. A small cafe in York -- two years ago in March. It was cold and rainy. My love and I had just finished some Welsh Rarebit. The coffee was served in a French Press. I bought some to bring home but it never tasted as good as that evening...

    Sadly, my notes on brand name and cafe name are buried...

    1. Your post about L'ami Louis sent me into a paroxysm of nostalgia and brought back splendid memories about my wonderful meal there in Paris 5 years ago. I'm sure the coffee was nonpareil but it was the roast chicken, the pommes frites and the nougatine glacee that still pervades my sense-memory like a perfume. Thank you for bringing it all back to me!!!!

        1. re: Shaebones

          Oh baby, I brought 20 lbs home in my suitcase!!! And we bought it in the mercado centrale in San Jose, where they roasted it. The fumes were so intense I could taste them all day long...After a morning shopping for coffee, we were so wiped out we sat in a bar for a cerveza..I was fried, and just stared out the door, or more appropriately,doorway, to the street...I kept seeing guys next to the door way at some sink or something, all going thru the same motions...After I revived, after a cerveza or 2, I realized it was a urinal next to the doorway, and I had been watching all these guys' backs as they peed...Clearly, it was not a "ladies' bar, but then......BUT HEY, I'M NOT A LADY, I'M A CHOWHOUND!!!!

        2. Was also in France. We stopped for lunch in a small hotel (don't ask me where) and had an exquisite, locally-grown plum tart for dessert served from a pan about, literally, 2 feet in diameter accompanied by, well, the best coffee i've had before or since. The owner made it in a huge contraption with 2 large glass bulbs at either end and an alcohol burner beneath. I tried to quiz her afterwards on the operating principles of the thing, but my bad French made that impossible. Is anyone familiar with this method of brewing and how it works?

          2 Replies
          1. re: CliffA

            Try this link for instructions:

            Also, the link below is for three different types.

            Link: http://www.sweetmarias.com/prod.brewe...

            1. re: ironmom

              Wow. Thanks. I'm getting one!

          2. The best cup of coffee I ever had was in my friend Edie's basement when I was a senior in high school.(We used to get together on Sunday nites, as fledgling artists, to draw each other, and listen to my friend Scott play his guitar..He thought Neil Young was god, but that's another story!!) I hated coffee, thought it had NO taste, because the coffee pot in our house was only used to boil water for Maxwell House Instant..Edie's mother made this STUFF, this indescribable STUFF, that I couldn't believe..I asked what this amazing nectar was and how she created it..She was totally nonplussed.."A&P, 8 o'clock blend.." But how did she MAKE it, what made it TASTE like that??? Uh, she brewed it with egg shells and a flannel filter...She was a Hungarian, Holocaust era immigrant, and there was a little language barrier..I went to A&P, I made a filter out of an old nitegown, I tried boiling it in a pan.My mother had no idea what I was trying to do..I had to have this stuff, this BREWED COFFEE!!!!! Several years later, I finally hit my first french press, and the rest is history..My mother still thinks coffe is no big deal...I will still spend 15 minutes looking for a parking spot so i can buy Pete's instead of Starbucks...

            1 Reply
            1. re: galleygirl
              Lynne Hodgman

              Wish there were Peet's in Kansas. I have not found an equivalently good cup of coffee anywhere here. Haven't even found that Peet's mail order will do...it all just seems weak, a mere faint imitation...I never liked coffee until I tasted Peet's (yes! it tastes as good as it smells!) and --- here's the kicker --- I can only drink decaf. (My body seems to make its own caffeine and I don't need any extra!) I wonder what the real stuff tastes like?

              If anyone in KC knows where I csn go out to get a good cup of coffee, I'd love to hear it. Hubby doesn't drink it at all, so I have never invested in a grinder etc. Maybe that's why everything I make at home (espresso, french press, etc.) seems blah. Sigh. Thanks in advance for your help.

            2. mmmm....cafe au lait...paris...anywhere in paris...aaaahhhh....I'm having a proustian experience here...

              1. b
                Brandon Nelson

                Coffeefest 2001 Seattle...

                I sat in seminar about barista training keyed by a gentleman named David Schoemer. He reminded of the some of the winemakers I have met. A little odd, a little quirky, and absolutely obsessive about what they do. He spoke of the potential for coffee to taste as good as it smelled. He spelled out the details; roast, grind, tamp, dose, water, temperature, extraction time...

                I made a point of stopping at his booth later on the sales floor. The cynic in me expected to be so much less than impressed. I was in for one of my finest chowhound moments. It was incredible. In fact my mother, who was the lone non coffee drinker among us put it best. "I have always wondered if I would ever have coffee that tasted like it smells!" That warm cup of wonder is the 10 one my 1-10 scale. The best anyone else, myself included, has ever achieved is a 7.


                2 Replies
                1. re: Brandon Nelson
                  Karen Page & Andrew Dornenburg

                  At first we raised an eyebrow when Philadelphia chefs kept telling us that they had one of the best cups of coffee in America right there in town...but once we tasted our first double espresso at LA COLOMBE TORREFACTION in Philadelphia (multiple locations), we had to admit they were right: It's a great cup of coffee indeed!

                  Karen Page & Andrew Dornenburg

                  Link: http://www.becomingachef.com

                  1. re: Karen Page & Andrew Dornenburg

                    yes!! la colombe is awesome.

                    old city coffee's pretty good, too.

                2. For me it was in a little cafe in Sidi Bou Said in Tunisia. It was a strong cup of espresso and sitting outside on the whitewashed bench looking at the Med probably made it more memorable and tasty as well.

                  1. At this moment.
                    At home: an Unic Diva machine with Illy espresso beans, daily for 7+ years. If you are ever considering putting a commercial machine into your home, it takes research, time, patience, and all of those dollars that you would spend at a Starbucks for about 1 1/2 years if you visit there 7 days a week. A good commercial machine performs for about 10 years, even longer if you don't let your friends play with it when you are away. We've tried too many other machines (and I have no confidence in the $700+ home machines) before we settled on the Unic, a French machine. I expect you can only do this in a large urban area, and then you will still need more luck than determination. But for those who are able and who dare ...

                    1. c
                      Caitlin Wheeler

                      I was in London, studying for a semester. We were poor students, and struggling with a French press coffee maker, which yielded consistently undrinkable coffee. This was a pre-Starbucks London, and good coffee was hard to find. In short, I hadn't had any decent coffee in a couple of months. Then we took a weekend trip to Paris. In some anonymous cafe on the left bank -- Cafe au lait. Oh the joy. Next to that, coffee I make at home and have brought to me in bed first thing in the morning is a close second.

                      1. Monmouth Coffee Company, London. Cappuccino. Thick espresso, thick, creamy milk and foam. Always go far out of my way when in town.