Aberdeen is cold wet and miserable at the moment my happy memories of winter cycling around Kent and Devon have been rendered into grey slush by the horizontal winds and a humidity factor that borders on fluid. So it was with some relief that I set out on a merry little jaunt to Brazil. Because on the unplanned nature of the expedition I was forced to fly cattle class, not something I would recommend for eleven hours, however the prospect of being able to communicate with my outer extremities once again seemed to justify this otherwise torturous form of travel. Warmth, golden beaches fresh food great surf, though as I was working I could not take a board, and above all some of the best coffee in the world.
Now several years ago I was in Nairobi, East Africa is one of my favorite parts of the world, Kenya the coffee is unbelievable and the Kenyans understand their product , the Kenyans treat coffee the way the French treat wine, with reverence and understanding. This is in marked difference to, say the Cameroonian's who also grow coffee but drink Guinness. In a main street in Nairobi I walked in to a coffee shop and was handed a menu, it was thicker than the book I was reading at the time. Having spent several minutes perusing the fare, I asked the very charming waitress for her recommendation, she asked me what sort of coffee i liked and after a brief discussion she expertly flicked through the menu and ran her finger down the page and incited the most appropriate .
When it arrived it was in a cup that I can only describe as being the size of a Dickensian bath tub,the type of twin handled copper tube that Pip would have bathed in in front of a raging fire. The Coffee was sublime Several hours and many experimental cups later with my nervous system so over charged with caffeine I could have out climbed Lance Armstrong up the Alpe d’Huez, I left a happier and wiser man. Fortunately I was due on a flight that afternoon or I would have ended up like a reject from Train-spotting. ( My Caffeine addiction is well documented on this blog so I won't detail it agaianhere). So it was with anticipation that i boarded reg plane to Sao Paulo, and the land of which Ol' Blue Eyes sang "they've got an awful lot of Coffee..."
The flight as I have mentioned was one step removed from water boarding, and my Gold Card frequent flyer status seemed to have little influence. Twenty two hours after leaving Dyce I arrived at the Hotel, it was clean the staff courteous, and with alacrity i headed for the restaurant and my first cup of Brazilian home grown.
It tasted like dish water. My first assumption was that perhaps I had discovered a new symptom of jet lag, the second cup was even less inspiring. I retired to bed a desolate man.
The following morning, breakfast coffee was even less inspiring, and I spent the morning plummeting into the spiral of withdraw and misery. By lunch I was desperate and I addressed the disappointment to a Brazilian colleague, who explained that all the best coffee was exported. A similar arrangement to your Columbian neighbours I ventured, referring not of course to their excellent coffee but their better known white product, Marco Pantani's marching powder.
The kind gentleman however eager to demonstrate his patriotism the following day presented me with a kilo of local beans, Lance why did you do it? EPO testosterone? A direct line to Rio and whilst you may not have had much sleep you'd have passed very test known to WADA and done it legitimately.
Blue Eyes was right They have got an awful lot of coffee but very little of it is in Brazil.