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Coffee hunting and other concerns

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Coffee is a serious business

Using a French Press is an easy way to make tasty coffee at home (Sajjad Hussain / AFP / Getty Images)

Using a French Press is an easy way to make tasty coffee at home
(Sajjad Hussain / AFP / Getty Images)

The hunt for a good cup of coffee in this traffic-filled city is quite the challenge. You have to deal with incompetent baristas, newly-opened cafes and all sorts of bad types of coffee. It is also not a matter of price, since sometimes you can pay over EGP 30 for a cup of fancy coffee, only to find that it tastes more like sour milk than a cappuccino. Then, there is the problem of people mixing lattes with other coffee drinks, so you get something that resembles a baby’s lunch instead of a mid-afternoon pick-me-up. There are also those who burn the coffee grounds so that even when you order a plain and simple black coffee, it tastes like the juice of something you scraped off the bottom of your oven.

The solution to all these woes? Make your own coffee. Recently, Egypt has been flooded with coffee-making machines and other contraptions that should help you make your own cup of java. The simplest one is a French press that helps you make brewed coffee to your taste without the risk of burning it. For a more sophisticated but similar result, you can get a filter coffee machine. Then, you have your specialty coffee machines offered by the likes of Nespresso and Bialetti. These come with their own coffee pods and a range of possibilities for the types of coffee drinks you can get from the machine. Of course, the fancier the coffee machine gets, the pricier everything becomes.

Then, if you feel like being authentic, maybe you should try the Italian coffee pots that allow you to make espresso on the stove. Some even swear they are much better than those pumped out by machines.

Once you get the contraption sorted out, then you are faced with the tremendous task of picking out the right coffee beans. For a first-timer, it might be easier to pick something already ground from the supermarket. Usually, for filter coffee, you should pick a medium-coarse coffee grind; for espresso, it should be a finer grind; and for French presses, the best result is usually achieved with a medium-fine coffee grind.

The known Italian brands like Lavazza and Illy are on the pricier side of the coffee scale. Lavazza is better for espresso than filter coffee and Illy provides a smoother coffee taste. For the connoisseur, you can always go to the coffee shops downtown, which sell coffee beans for Turkish coffee. They usually have several types of imported coffee beans and they are more affordable than most available supermarket brands. And then there is also the possibility of purchasing ground coffee from your favourite cafe.

Normally, we would never recommend Starbucks, because everyone knows that their coffee is overly pricey and poor quality. However, a recent testing of some of their new coffee beans has proved contradictory to that general idea. This is the Guatemala Casi Cielo with lemon and dark cocoa notes coffee beans. First of all, the aroma of the coffee while you are making it is quite enticing, and although it does have the signature bitterness of Starbucks coffee, it is still much smoother than other kinds of beans. Generally, we would recommend it.

In the end, it always boils down to how much preparation you are willing to pour into your coffee consumption. If you want a better experience, you might want to invest in making it yourself. Otherwise, you have to make do with all the subpar coffee out there.


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