Across Continents

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The English teacher

"Simplicity is the ultimate simplification" – Leonardo da Vinci

Cafe - web

Seems there’d been a bit of a ruckus in a New York outlet of a well known coffee chain. An English professor refusing to succumb to their contrived terminology for a simple beverage. On the other side of the world, I’d been merely been seeking to help refine the cafe culture. In my never ending search for the very best cup of coffee, I’d found a delightful little establishment. But, try as I might, no matter what I ordered, the result was the same. Espresso. Single shot.

My efforts to have my cup topped up with hot water, a more palatable drink, caused great confusion. Quite possible because the Chinese for water – shui – is very similar to their word for yes. As in yes please, one shot of espresso, or one accompanying bottle of spring water. Feeling despondent, I’d returned to my seat, resigned to yet another perky little number. Pleasant enough, but, ordinarily, a bit too strong for my tastes.

Sensing my difficulties, Chenyan introduced herself. She taught English at a local junior school. Could she help? Smiling, I quickly sketched out in her notebook the ingredients for a black Americano – espresso and hot water. A few moments wait, and then success. At last. Maybe I should just have asked for a half-caf tall triple shot Americano, hold the latte in the first place. Whatever that is in Chinese.


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