I didn’t even know what a French press was when I first heard the word that morning as I was eating breakfast in Tecolostote, Nicaragua. I had arrived with an excited group from my church to help work on various projects that my friend, Paul Heier & his team had going on there for the Hope Center.
The waiter brought around the coffee and we all swooned. It’s aroma filled the dense, tropical air each morning like a momma’s smile over a baby’s crib. It was delicious.
Our breakfast conversation over the next 5 days always came back to how amazing this coffee was. My friend, Whitney, explained all about how a French Press works and how it served to fully extract the flavors from the freshly ground beans.
Each day, I’d ask the staff about the coffee and they would just smile at us & serve more. I noticed, however, that they always conveniently avoided answering my question: “Where can I buy this coffee.”
On the final day I cornered the waiter who spoke the best English as the group was headed off to the bus. “Can I see what a French Press looks like?”, I asked, as I began to make my way into the kitchen area. It was then that I learned the truth.
“You can buy it at the airport on your way home.”, he replied. “Stay here for one moment.”, he said as he hurried into the open air kitchen.
When he emerged a few moments later all I could do was grin like the gringo I was. Our group had been duped. There in his hand was about the most average container of instant coffee I’d ever seen….distributed by Nestle!!
We had a good laugh & I remembered hearing their hushed chuckles as I walked back towards my group.
I think we all have a tendency to think beautiful things are more exotic & mysterious than they really are. Like magic, once we identify the mechanics of something the intrigue is gone. If they would’ve put hot water and a bowl of instant coffee on the table each morning I have little doubt we would’ve been under-impressed.
I did buy a few canisters of that coffee & it has long since been gone from my cupboard. Oddly, it never tasted quite the same after I learned the truth.
For the record, I still don’t know what a French press looks like and I’m really not sure I want to anymore. I think I’ll just enjoy my coffee.