By Antonio Graceffo
I walked into a chain coffee shop in Phnom Penh, read their offerings of over-priced over-fancy coffee drinks with exotic names, which cost more than the daily wage of the person preparing them, and asked. “Do you have plain brewed coffee?” The barista asked, “Fruit coffee?”
“No, brewed coffee. Do you have brewed coffee?”
“Fruit coffee?” He asked again, scanning the menu.
“No, fruit coffee doesn’t exist. I am asking if you have brewed coffee.” I repeated.
Another worker walked over and asked the barista, “What does he want?” The barista answered, “He keeps asking for fruit coffee.”
“NOT FRUIT COFFEE!” I shouted. “Brewed coffee, B-R-E-W-E-D coffee.”
When they mentioned fruit coffee again, I just gave-in and ordered an Americano. After I sat down to drink my Americano, I thought for a moment. This was probably the only café any of them had been in. As a result, the only coffee drinks they have ever heard of or know exist are the ones on this café’s menu. They had no way of knowing there is such a thing as a plain brewed coffee.
In the developing world, whether it be Cambodia or even wealthy China, you have to remind yourself that the hotel worker may never have slept in a hotel. The waitress may never have eaten in a restaurant. And the barista may not know the simple joys of a fruit coffee.
Brooklyn Monk, Antonio Graceffo is a PhD candidate at Shanghai University of sport, writing his dissertation on comparative forms of Chinese wrestling. He is martial arts and adventure author living in Asia, the author of the books, “Warrior Odyssey’ and “The Monk from Brooklyn.” He is also the host of the web TV show, “Martial Arts Odyssey,” which traces his ongoing journey through Asia, learning martial arts in various countries.
Warrior Odyssey, the book chronicling Antonio Graceffo’s first six years in Asia is available at amazon.com. The book contains stories about the war in Burma and the Shan State Army. The book is available at http://www.blackbeltmag.com/warrior_odyssey
See Antonio’s Destinations video series and find out about his column on http://www.blackbeltmag.com
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Brooklyn Monk in Asia Podcast (anti-travel humor)