This is a normal cup of Israeli coffee, the kind you can order practically anywhere. This particular shop, in fact, is usually associated with gas stations. It’s called Kafe Hafuch or Upside-down coffee, the local equivalent of the French café au lait. It goes for between 8 and 14 shekel, or $2 to $3.5.
Here’s the HUGE difference, though, between the average Israeli coffee and its American counterpart: the average, lowly, gas station coffee in Israel beats by far the most expensive coffee shop coffee in New York. I don’t even want to mention a certain Seattle-based coffee shop chain where they burn the coffee so bad you can hear the cries coming up from below the floor boards. I’m talking about every doughnut shop or coffee shop in the city (depending on your kashrut standards, obviously) – in all those places the coffee has usually stood up on the heating pad for half a day, it’s sour and bitter, and you drink it basically for the kick you need so desperately before going into an important meeting.
But in Israel (depending on your kashrut standards, obviously), with very few disappointing exceptions, the coffee is delicious. It has just the right amount of kick, it’s made fresh at the espresso machine, and if you’re lucky the counter person knows how to make those lovely illustrations in the foamy milk that break your heart when you end up drinking their art.
Nancy says it’s all about the milk, meaning that Israeli coffee is, basically half milk, steamed, so no matter how lousy the coffee underneath is, the milk covers it up. Maybe she’s right. Maybe it also explains why I shell out 11 shekel per cup (just under $3), but I’ll tell you, I’m happy to pay knowing my coffee will be good every time.
Except for the guy at the lobby of the Maccabi HMO offices in Netanya, whose coffee is bitter. So stay away from coffee shops in HMO buildings, otherwise, trust me, Israeli coffee is the best.