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My Morning Coffee

Posted by Peder on 25 March 2009

I am a coffee drinker, but here in Belize getting a proper cup of coffee can be difficult. Of course, that depends on your definition of “proper.” I’m talking about the Starbucks/Caribou quality joe one gets used to living in the States. And if corporate coffee isn’t your thing — you prefer to make it at home or visit smaller coffee houses — then we’re still in the same boat.



For a Central American country, I’m pretty surprised how hard it is to find good coffee here.  First of all, there’s not much of a culture for it.  It’s not too common to walk into a Mayan or Garifuna household and see a coffee maker or be offered a cup.  What you might be offered is a cup of tea.  Maybe it’s the British colonial roots or maybe it’s that tea is less expensive than coffee, but this is a tea drinking nation — that is, when hot beverages are called for.  As I write this it’s pushing 80 degrees at 9:30 in the morning.  I myself would be more inclined for a fresh glass of lime juice than a steamy beverage at this point!

Instant Coffee

Instant Coffee

A coworker asked me yesterday to teach her how to make coffee.  You see, after a sufficient influx of English and American expats even a Belizean administration as to make some concessions.  Ours was a drip coffee maker, which arrived around 3 weeks after I did.  Anyway, our admin assistant wants to know how to use this thing.  As she put it, “I’m only used to making coffee the traditional way.”  Which way is that, I asked her.  “Instant.” A groan of exasperation left my lips even as I tried to suppress it.  So together we made her first pot of drip coffee.  Maxwell House.  Still not up to Starbucks, but it’s not a horrible place to be.

Important Office Supplies

Important Office Supplies

There are a couple places in town to get coffee, but if you don’t want instant you have to go to an establishment owned by an expat or one that caters to the tourist crowd.  One option here in PG is Tide Tours, operated by a Czech friend (who should also be teaching me SCUBA in a couple weeks).  He always has a pot burning, but similar to what we have at our office, it’s a mid-grade roast with powdered milk.  One thing I will say though is the cane sugar we have down here is delicious.  No one could have a problem with the sugar, say I.

Sweetened Condensed Milk

Sweetened Condensed Milk

So, yeah. Powdered milk isn’t always that appealing, but it’s often what’s available. Liquid milk isn’t especially prevalent, though if the first store you stop at is out, the second one likely will have it. They’ll have the European-style box-o-milk which sits on the shelf at room temperature and only needs to be refrigerated once it’s been opened. What I’ve come to like is condensed milk. I never really had that much ever before, but it’s a great substitute for Half & Half, my coffee condiment of choice back home. As a bonus the condensed milk is sweetened pretty much sealing its fate as ideal demitasse diluter.  (Oh, and check out that no-moving-parts can opener I got in that picture.  It’s works surprisingly well!)

High Quality Belizean Brew

High Quality Belizean Brew

There is some proper coffee grown here.  Good stuff:  Shade grown, organic, high quality.  You see it sold at the grocery stores, but the price point is just so much higher than the other stuff; it’s hard to justify buying something like that.  Oh well, looks like I’ll be spending more time with the teas and lime juices until I return to the colder climes of the Northland.

* Bloop! *

* Bloop! *


2 Responses to “My Morning Coffee”

  1. Great post! Can I use part of your article on my blog with a linkback to you? Thanks 🙂

  2. Peder said

    Works for me!

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