I once dated a fella who drank Nescafe. With powdered creamer, no less. It was one of the many things I found hopelessly endearing about him, like that he lived in a condemnable, unheated apartment with a bunch of other junkie artists in a wretched section of town, and that he did whip-its- whip-its!- and drove a truck with a death rattle, and wrote beautiful songs. Everyone I knew lived in Charles Village and owned a french press. Drinking Nescafe out of a dirty mug in his (approximation of a) kitchen while shivering under a (smelly) blanket was thrilling.
“I like it,” he said defensively when I poked fun at it. (He was defensive a lot. I should have paid more attention to that.) “It’s good.”
I hated to admit it but I kind of agreed. Nescafe tastes like coffee flavored candy, or coffee flavored ice-cream. Unmistakably coffee-ish, but flat, with no depth, no bitterness.
I didn’t drink it again after he left and started dating his bass player. My next fella was a coffee snob and with him I drank americanos, but you aren’t here to learn about the history of my love life as told through coffee drinks, but to learn about Turkey.
Before I left the states everyone I told about my trip said the same thing: “Ohmygod the coffee is going to be so good!”
I was surprised when I came here and found that Turks, the progenitors of Turkish coffee, appear to primarily drink Nescafe. With powdered creamer.
It’s not that you can’t get any other kind- you can also get a “filter coffee” or a Turkish coffee in the cafes, and I’ve even seen a few coffee makers in the appliance stores- it’s just that everyone seems to have a foil bag of Nescafe or Jacob’s or something in their pantry. It’s what I drink at home, now. It’s what we all drink at work.
Every morning I stumble out of bed and wander into the kitchen and pour myself a glass of water. I put my breakfast in the oven to warm, and switch on the electric kettle. One minute later I have a very reasonable facsimile of a cup of coffee. Sure, it’s flat and dishwatery, (except for the last swallow which is sludgey and sweet with undissolved sugar) but it’s comforting somehow. Consistent. Reliable.
“You know,” I said to my co-worker, as I plopped a sugar cube into my mug, “it’s hard to explain but where I come from, this kind of coffee is, well, it’s comical.”
“I don’t understand,” he said.
“Never mind,” I said.