Behind the raised cashier counter are two serious looking women in their freshly laundered orange blouses. They don't smile and rarely talk, just let you know that the best coffee you will ever drink in your life costs a fraction of what you will pay in your home country. Machiatto for 30 cents, U.S. You tell them what you want and they dispense the chips. Small white is a latte, large black is macchiato, white chip indicates a simple strong black cup, round white means with milk.
In the back is a long thin counter with cups of different sizes. Directly centered is the Habesha women dutifully cleaning the coffee cups in soapy water and then drying them with a well worn towel. To her left and right are the ancient coffee presses each manned by gents who have roasted, ground, scooped and filled the machines for many years. When I asked one of these artisans how long he was doing it, he replied, “before you were born”. Like the coffee — simple, strong and with feeling.
The coffee is poured and you know yours is ready when your chip has a cup in front of. You grab it and sip from the cup, all the while observing the regulars perched low on a wooden bench. The younger folk at the four high counters talking about life and liberty. The television, high on the wall, has its sound off and the news on. There has been a raid in the center of Paris. Terrorists are dead. Time stands still, drinking coffee as a spiritual activity, total tranquility. Great way to start a trip or end one. Will be back soon.