By Robin Connolly, Co-Editor-in-Chief
The Croft Magazine // Robin takes a trip down travel-memory-lane ... through several cups of coffee!
It is a well-known fact that when you come to university, at some point during your degree, you will ask the question (probably to your housemate at 3am the morning of a deadline): ‘Do I have an addiction to caffeine?’ Looking back on my baggy-eyed, sleep-deprived, second year self, I think the only appropriate response was probably a simple ‘yes.’ However, while an unhealthy relationship with grimy bean juice has most certainly defined some of my less desirable academic moments, some of my most favourite travel memories also lie in the bottom of a large cup of café noir.
Tiller + Grain, Dublin
There are some friendships that just do revolve around your drinking habits. This one in particular does not necessarily require anything stronger than a black americano brewed in a bright-blue mocha pot on a Wednesday afternoon. It is a friendship that orbits around sofa-snuggling, storytelling and very many cups of something warm and comforting. In January last year, we decided to take our friendship to the next level and straight out of January exam halls, we hopped on a plane from Bristol airport and found ourselves (queue the music) on Grafton Street right outside of... I exaggerate, we actually found ourselves at 23 Frederick St., Dublin, in a very funky coffee shop called Tiller + Grain. As two travellers, weary from a morning of wandering a city that neither of us could make head or tail of the geography of, we were very grateful to bump into this little yellow fronted café, celebrating its first birthday. I can’t remember exactly what the coffee was like, nor do I remember what we spoke about while we were there. However, I remember in that moment, with the soles of my feet burning and my little nose feeling very chilly, the enormous feeling of love I had for the gorgeously Irish-accented barista that brought over our drinks.
The small but mighty espresso, Rome
There’s a scene in Eat, Pray, Love (2010), where Julia Roberts waves her arms around at a coffee bar in Rome, trying to get noticed in a sea of suit-clad business people on their way to work. I have always imagined myself in that moment and have romanticised about grabbing an espresso on my way to work in a sexy Italian-cut blazer. My Rome espresso experience was not as exciting, nor glamourous, but it was (in my head, at least) just as smooth, hot and strong as Julia’s. The first one I ever had was in a café near Piazza Navona. Having heard of Italian coffee-snobbery, I was paralytically fearful that I would order the wrong thing and have to witness the judgemental glare of an Italian waiter, which of course proved to be irrational, as the waiter couldn’t give a toss what was on my drinks order. Surrounded by a bunch of girlfriends from school, we giggled while we drank, people-watched and basked in that sense of freedom only school-trippers can relate to. It was no Eat, Pray, Love moment, but it was rather glorious while it lasted.
Dolce far niente!
A ‘home brew’, Paxos
Some experiments are simply that – experimental. They go wrong, we fail and we learn that the good-old cafetière will be the only way forward for us in the future. While Greek Island hopping, one of my favourite fellow travellers and I became increasingly intrigued by the concept of a ‘Greek Coffee’. We saw its description on menus, we watched people order it and in all the places we stayed, we found a confusing little pot-type contraption (excuse our lack of education up until this point), that we had no idea how to use. One morning, we bit the bullet and decided to try our hand at this new type of brewing method. We bought the beans, we readied the pot and we (like I said, we apologise), YouTubed a tutorial on what to do next. Now, my mother always told me that a ‘bad workman always blames his tools’, so in this vein I will take total responsibility for the disaster that occurred. The liquid that we produced was possibly more potent than rocket fuel and its viscosity was most certainly also similar. The black sludge that dribbled into our cups was drinkable, although not palatable – I’m pretty sure the Greeks would have been ashamed of us. It was an event not to be repeated and following on from it, we took to ordering iced cappuccinos from professional baristas instead. However, it will always remain a fond memory, two little English students and an abject failure in common sense.
Featured Image : Epigram / Robin Connolly