Located in Saint-Eustache, Quebec, a two-hour drive from Ottawa and a little over an hour…
Every morning, no matter where you are, the sun comes up.
I haven’t always been a morning person; I have the Dragonfly Inn to thank for that. In my time as an Innkeeper, the early morning hours were precious. No distractions, a quiet house. It became “me” time… a meditation… a cup of coffee… the Zen & the Zing.
More than caffeine, coffee is a morning ritual for me. The smell of it, the way it fills the room with a warm, heavy aroma. In my travels through Central America, I thrilled each morning to wake up to some truly outstanding coffee.
Of the many, three stand out in my mind; coffee so perfect in each moment that it made my eyes roll back in my head, a little moan escape my lips…
ONE: Placencia, Belize; the Turtle Inn.
The Turtle Inn was one of my most indulgent moments; I stumbled upon it years ago while researching tourism properties and marketing direction for the Dragonfly Inn as I launched my own brand of hospitality. More than any other, the Turtle Inn website was a profound influence, a Coppola Resort property (yes, Francis Ford Coppola…) their marketing was completely personal in its approach encouraging me to do the same. Be personal. (At the very least, shouldn’t life be… personal?!)
It was a dream come true to spend two days in the opulence that is Turtle Inn, greatly pampered – after a week in the atolls at an eco-resort, camping on the beach – to swim in a semi-private pool and indulge in Italian food and an amazing wine list and a setting so completely perfect that even I could not approve on it.
Coffee service is one of the many little indulgences offered guests at the Turtle Inn. Brewed fresh and brought to your door with raw sugar and steamed milk; the coffee offered is nothing short of a personal note from Mr. Coppola himself. His favorite bean.
A dark, rich, full bodied roast from Nicaragua.
*Eyes rolling back in head moment. *
The balance of a slight bitterness of a big roast levelled by the extreme sweetness of the raw sugar and the slight foam of the warmed milk.
I sat in my Turtle Inn bathrobe, watching the iguana swim in my pool and imagined a conversation with my host, were he enjoying this cup of coffee with me… “So, Francis (do you mind if I call you Francis? No?) Ok… so, Francis, Godfather III… just a little too long don’t you think?”
OK… so maybe its best if we stick to the topics of food and wine… it’s only polite.
TWO: Havana, Cuba; the Plaza Hotel
To be honest, the only thing good that I have to say about the Plaza Hotel in the heart of Old Havana is the fact that you can get an espresso, freshly pressed at 4AM.
Horrid hotel. Smelled like cheese. I refused to sleep on the sheets. The windows wouldn’t close and noise and lack of security kept me awake most of the night. No sense lying there jumping with every honk of the horn outside my window. Instead I found myself in the once glorious lobby(that smells less like cheese) watching Spanish music videos drinking Cuban coffee.
Medium roast, mellow and even. I’m a light and hot kind of gal. If the roast is smooth I don’t need sugar… I’m sweet enough already.
Cuban may be some of my favourite coffee. It was readily available to take home in bean form and well as fresh ground. I imported ten pounds of it. It made my already heavy luggage even heavier and it was worth every penny! As I write; I can see that big bag of ‘Cubanita, Cafe Arabico en Grano” just sitting there —tempting me.
But for the moment, I am occupied by the Honduran.
THREE: Roatan, Honduras; the Vintage Pearl
After a big meal, some of the richest food I’d eaten in months on a journey that featured great food… the coffee at the Vintage Pearl Restaurant & Wine Bar was pure Honduran pleasure. The aroma caught me before I had a chance to reconsider, as another diner enjoyed a coffee with dessert.
Perhaps one of the greatest surprises in Honduras was its coffee. Bold without bitterness. Subtle but not shy. For my month in Roatan it was my daily intoxication.
Heady. Full. A roast that I describe as “serene” in its intensity.
Oddly, I found it hard to get Honduran coffee in whole bean form and trust me, I looked. So I had to settle for ground. ‘Buenos Dias, la Muralla Mountain’ coffee is grown and roasted in Roatan. The five pound bag I brought home is being carefully metered out every morning and when it’s gone I will miss it, terribly.
It is the comfort of a friend who saw me through tears in paradise and came back home, to see me smile again.
If there were four cups of coffee the fourth would be… this one… the Honduran, early, light and hot. Just me and my pink fluffy bathrobe and a blank page.
Here’s to ritual. To mornings made tolerable by a warm brew. To baristas the world over who handover our steaming addiction with a smile.
May your cup runneth over, may it make your eyes roll back, may a sigh escape you…