Letters to Homer: Coffee in Argentina

Dear Homer:

It’s me again.  I’m still lost somewhere in the barrios of Buenos Aires.  I crossed Perron Avenue today and almost got hit by one of a million taxi cabs.  So I grabbed a seat in a coffee shop and sit down to ponder this amazing drink and how it’s consumed here in Argentina.

I know that you think the coffee at McDonald’s is the best there is; I guess since you hit senior citizen status that $1 a cup with free re-fills is hard to beat.

If you ever make it to Buenos Aires to see Ale and me though, there are some things you need to know about the coffee.

Coffee here is a pretty big deal Homer.  When Americans and the British were busy discovering the benefits of expresso over instant, Argentines had already developed a pretty sophisticated taste for the coffee culture.

For over a hundred years the café has been a key part of life for Argentines.  Like the pub is to the English or the backyard grill is to Americans, the local café is central for these folks.

I know that besides McDonald’s there in Bent Fork you don’t have much selection.  Here in Buenos Aires though you can’t go two blocks in any direction without running into a café on the corner.

I know how you think slurping your coffee helps to cool it off, but if you want to keep from appearing to be a tourist homer, there’s some things you need to know.

First thing buddy; never walk with your coffee.  Not even from the counter to the table – here you’ll be served.  Whatever you do Homer, don’t walk down the street holding that coffee on your way to check out the new tools over at the hardware store – you’ll standout like the tourist you are.  For Argentinians, coffee is a six letter word that means “hot liquid meant to be savored while sitting down”.

Next Homer, whatever you do, don’t order a latte!  Lattes are big in America but here they are unknown.  Just order an espresso; if you’re feeling bolder, go for a cortado.  If you want more milk, then go for the café con leche – but only in the morning.  It’s a breakfast drink Homer and that doesn’t mean you can dip your pancakes into it like you do on Saturdays over at the Rusty Bucket Diner.

I know that Bertha doesn’t like caffeine.  I remember that time during revival over at the First Baptist Church that she said it made her skin feel like there were blue and red bugs crawling on her.  Just keep her happy and order a submarino.  A submarino is kind of a do-it-yourself hot chocolate.  Your waiter will fetch you a glass of hot milk, a chocolate bar and spoon.  Bertha does the rest.

Next, enjoy the show.  When the waiter brings your coffee over, it’s not just coffee.  You and the missus will also get a glass of sparking water and a small cake.  Enjoy.  It’s all included in the price.

Take your time Homer.  I know you’ll be in a hurry to get your cane pole and trot on down to the river, but cafes are where Argentines meet to solve the worlds problems – or gossip about the neighbors.  It’s perfectly fine with them if you linger for hours as you try to pronounce all the Spanish words on the store window across the street.

Finally Homer, sharpen your pencil.  A lot of literay greats wrote their finest work while sitting in a café somewhere here in Buenos Aires.

5. Write your next novel. Jorge Luis Borges, Julio Cortazar and poet Alfonsina Storni all wrote their masterpieces over an espresso in the Argentine capital. So sit back and enjoy playing Dirty Bird or posting the latest updates on Facebook.

Well, Homer, that’s about all the advice I have on coffee here in Argentina.  I’ve got to scoot and get a refill on – yah, you guessed it – coffee.

Your friend, still lost somewhere in the Barrios of Buenos Aires.

One thought on “Letters to Homer: Coffee in Argentina

  1. Pingback: Letters to Homer: Safety in Argentina, Part I «

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