Thursday, October 25, 2007

The Dawn Café

Café life here - as anywhere - is fascinating. The Madeiran coffee experience is very cheap and very fast - the inverse of my experience anywhere else. There are other differences as well - bread and pastries are all baked in-house, and no-one seems to think that warrants bragging about; and everywhere serves alcohol (in addition to beer and recognisable spirits, there are a few strange bottles occasionally brought out from under the counter).

But the early mornings are when Madeiran café life really stands out. You know the usual: people queueing impatiently for a vat of coffee to drink on the way to work; a few solitary people taking the time to sit with a danish and a vacant expression.

It's different here: parents and children pop in on the way to school for juice and a pastry; suited types stand at the counter, chatting with the staff; friends catch up over breakfast before heading off separately to work. They make it seem like elevenses on a Saturday morning. It all happens very quickly, but without being rushed. And it continues through the day - people coming together for a few minutes and a thimbleful of coffee.

A 20-oz coffee to go would be unimaginable: What a ridiculous amount of coffee, and you say I'd drink it walking down the street... where's the point in that?

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