Why I Sort of Love Nescafé Instant Coffee

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As any coffee addict knows, in places where a decent cup of coffee is hard to find, you'll always find Nescafé. Though the coffee snob in me feels I should turn up my nose at instant coffee from a packet, I have a soft spot for those brown crystals that make it easy to find a steaming cup of hot coffee no matter where in the world you are.

Yes, that's probably the addict talking. But there is also something Proustian about drinking a cup of the reliable and unspectacular brew. It takes me back to eating breakfast on a jungle trek in Thailand, sitting in a damp house made of bamboo eating eggs cooked by our slightly terrifying guide, who had stripped down to his leopard-print Calvin Kleins as soon as we set up camp. Or sitting in a red-brocade-covered room in an old hotel in Beijing with my husband, taking a deep breath before plunging into the frantic crush of the morning subway station. Or, more recently, peacefully eating pastries in a bright bakery run by three sisters in Lebanon, watching local women come in with their jars of za'atar spice blend, which the sisters spread onto dough with olive oil and baked until browned and chewy.

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No, Nescafé isn't the best coffee you'll ever drink. But when you travel, doesn't it sometimes feel like the best cup of coffee you've ever had?

(Images: Flickr member Randy Adams licensed under Creative Commons; Anjali Prasertong)

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