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September 21, 2014 / 26 Elul, 5774
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Upside-Down Coffee

Upside-Down Coffee

Photo Credit: Nati Shohat/Flash90

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.

About the Author: Yori Yanover has been a working journalist since age 17, before he enlisted and worked for Ba'Machane Nachal. Since then he has worked for Israel Shelanu, the US supplement of Yedioth, JCN18.com, USAJewish.com, Lubavitch News Service, Arutz 7 (as DJ on the high seas), and the Grand Street News. He has published Dancing and Crying, a colorful and intimate portrait of the last two years in the life of the late Lubavitch Rebbe, (in Hebrew), and two fun books in English: The Cabalist's Daughter: A Novel of Practical Messianic Redemption, and How Would God REALLY Vote.


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One Response to “Upside-Down Coffee”

  1. Liad Bar-el says:

    Never drank coffee on a regular basis for all of my life until last year when I drank Kafea Ahfook at one the best coffee shops (according to surveys it was Kafea Kadosh) in Jerusalem. However, it tasted different every time I went there. Why?

    I did extensive research on coffee making, coffee machines and even considered buying a $2,000 stainless steel coffee machine. I learned that the coffee beans should be the ones that you like and there are many different kinds, they have to be roasted to the taste that you like, ground to the texture that best for brewing, packed in the container to the correct pressure with the exact amount for the coffee container so that it will brew evenly, the water cannot be too hot nor too cold so that the brewing does not destroy the coffee and the flavor and the pressure of the water going through the coffee container has to be at a certain pressure so that it will capture the coffee and not dilute it. After all of this study, I learned that hand-made coffee in coffee shops whereby they have to hand pack the coffee container, will give you a different tasting cup of coffee every time. And this is with only one type of coffee bean. Maybe you’ll like it or maybe you won’t like it. When I have friends over, I realized that I would be slaving in the kitchen making coffee for over an hour along with a great mess and not everyone would be getting their coffee at the same time. Then to make the milk foamy, it was actually diluting the milk with hot steam; so, the milk didn’t taste much like milk but rather colored water. Because of all of this, I gave up the project.

    Then I met Nespresso. I bought their coffee maker which makes a perfect cup of coffee every time with no mess and you have over 16 different flavors to choose from. The milk is heated and whipped for a rich taste. It is not diluted with steam. The Nespresso store gives free tasting of all their coffees in the Mamilla Mall in Jerusalem.

    The price of a cup of coffee is now half of what I would pay in a gas station and about 25% the cost from a coffee shop AND IT TASTES MUCH BETTER.

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