The other day, some visitors and I were somewhat
perplexed in a Chiang Mai coffee shop. The thing that caused all the
trouble was that we wanted to order a simple cup of coffee – no easy
thing to achieve, in those coffee shop chains we have all over the place
here, like Starbucks.
Well, now, to start with there is apparently no such
thing as a large cup. We were told they didn’t have large cups, only
‘’tall.” In fact, these were huge – about the size of those table-top
rubbish bins they put out at breakfast in German hotels. Enormous though
they were, their contents were so milky and frothy that there was very
little taste of coffee apparent. Mind you, if that bucket (sorry,
‘’tall” drink ) really was full of strong coffee, you’d end up pole
dancing on their lamp stands from the caffeine jolt!
We found out that they don’t have small cups either –
only ‘’short.” If you are not up-to-date with their own special and
weird lingo, then it becomes difficult to order anything.
And what about the type of coffee you prefer – would
that be ‘’blonde roast” (whatever that is)? The names they give to many
of these bucket-sized frothy drinks often gives little clue as to what
might actually be in them, other than the over-sweet flavorings. What
type of coffee is a ‘’toffee nut latte,” or a ‘’peppermint mocha,”’ we
wondered? But the server – sorry, ‘’barista” – had no more clue about
that, than we did! One thing is sure: there’s no shortage of sweetness
in most of them.
If Americans consume one of two of these sweetened
buckets of froth each day, it can be no surprise that the US is one of
the obesity capitals of the world!
Try attempting to get a teenage local, with weak
English skills, who works there to explain the differences between their
Anniversary blend, Autumn blend, Christmas blend, or even Komodo Dragon
blend! Since this is a coffee-growing region of Thailand, we looked –
but in vain - for a Chiang Mai blend, though they had a large variety of
offerings from elsewhere. You can have Viennese, Sumatran, Kenyan,
Antiguan, French or Italian – but not Thai!
The sugary snacks that they serve up (at high prices)
to go along with these buckets of sweetened froth are themselves very
unhealthy, very fattening. Cake slices are gigantic, and even the
cookies are as big as a saucer, though thicker.
Not knowing what to order from this apparently
caffeine-free extensive list of ‘’beverages,” we decamped to a more
local establishment to enjoy hearty small cups of aromatic Chiang Rai
coffee, without all the nonsense – and without having to mortgage the
house to pay, either!
It seems these international chains of so-called
coffee shops serve mostly those who don’t actually like the real
taste of coffee!