It's All In The Beans - The Coffee Shack
You have probably guessed by now that I drink coffee. I also enjoy a proper coffee shop. The first time we visited Nepal we were quickly introduced to the local tea drinking habits. For somebody who has very seldom put his mouth to English or black tea, this was initially a bit difficult. On our first few trips to Nepal our only caffeinated option was Nescafé. It was only on our third trip that our host stopped at a shack next to the road and invited us to have some coffee. I was a bit skeptical, even borderline afraid. We had always been advised to stay away from “street food” if we wanted to remain healthy for the duration of a trip. No eating food bought from street vendors, and also no milk products. That was our motto. We were forced into a corner. We decided to step onto the figurative ledge and break some of our rules. We were pleasantly surprised. It was delicious. It was genuinely so good that we forced our host to stop there again on our return.
That-Man and a friend at the Coffee Shack - 2011
It was then that a very interesting fact came under our attention: Nepal actually grows their own organic coffee. We would never have guessed that this tea drinking nation would also produce a decent cuppa. We bought some coffee, but it seemed more like stealing to us. We couldn’t believe the price of a packet of black gold. It was with our second cup on the return drive - by that time we had lost all fear of “street food” - that I saw the owner at work. He had a gas stove with one pot, in which he produced our milk coffee very much in the same way they make chai tea. I later learned that he uses buffalo milk, which is richer than cow’s milk. This truly gives the coffee a very rich flavour. The menu back then consisted of coffee or lassi, a traditional drink of yoghurt and sometimes banana. This was one of the few occasions My Angel has had to drink coffee. I can't remember if I helped her to drink it or not, but if I did it would have been a great pleasure.
By the time we visited Nepal again one year later, the Coffee Shack was included in the itinerary as if it had been our main destination. It soon became clear that we were not the only ones doing that. It teemed with travelers enjoying warm drinks and fresh snacks. Our friend’s shack had grown to a two-storey building with many tables and chairs, and even a deck on top where we could enjoy our steaming glasses of Arabica and drink in the view of the valley below and the Himalayas in the distance. Somewhere in the middle many smaller mountains are visible, but the locals are quick to inform you that these are merely the foothills; the real McCoys are the ones permanently covered with snow.
One year later
At our small Coffee Shack next to the road everything has changed, but one thing that remained the same was the buffalo milk coffee served in small glasses. Each time we’ve passed that spot, we’ve planned a stop at “our” mountainside coffee shop and with each trip we bring back some organic Nepali coffee. This might not be the espresso connoisseur’s first choice, but for somebody who enjoy both the ordinariness and the extraordinariness of this coffee experience, a visit to the Coffee Shack comes highly recommended.
The small zinc shack next to the road has been replaced by a bigger building; the vehicles passing by on the road don’t drive right by your table anymore; but I can guarantee you that the coffee is still the same.
A view over the valley
Other articles in this series include: