Afrikaans is such a beautifully descriptive language. What does the word “boeretroos” mean? “Boere” means “farmers” and “troos” translates to “comfort”. “Farmers’ comfort” is the perfect classification for coffee, made the Afrikaans way. But what exactly is boeretroos koffie and what makes it so comforting?
Hot, strong, milky and sweet. That’s how it’s done. There’s nothing like the revitalising smell of farmhouse coffee to lift your spirits, and that’s exactly what boeretroos koffie does. It’s a double team pick-me-up consisting of caffeine with a sugar rush – all the sweetness in the cup is provided by a heavy sugar spoon hand or a generous dollop of condensed milk.
Boeretroos koffie is so much more than just a caffeinated drink. It’s the best way to soften up the brick-like rusks that are a staple in Afrikaans kitchens, and most South Africans have strong memories of the simple pleasures of dipping a rusk or five into hot coffee on a cold winter’s morning. And it’s not just biscuits that we dipped into our boeretroos koffie, this was the best way to get dry, slightly stale bread or toast down.
Enjoyed all over the globe
Throughout history, coffee has been more than a drink. It’s a bean that brings people together, as they gather to share a cup of coffee and exchange gossip and information.
These days, we’re rediscovering the heritage in the coffee bean, and the sudden proliferation of artisanal coffee brewing houses is proof of the fact that people enjoy variety in their coffee, as well as the reassuring tastes of traditional ways of serving coffee, like the Afrikaans with their boeretroos. The Irish spike their coffee with whiskey (hence “Irish coffee”) and in Italy they’re fond of tiny cups of coffee – the espresso, which Italians drink all day long.
Interesting facts to read while you sip your boeretroos
Coffee is the world’s second largest traded commodity, with crude oil being the biggest. It’s an industry worth more than $100 billion worldwide. Even though Americans drink a lot of coffee, Hawaii is the only state that can grow coffee – because the right conditions call for high altitudes, tropical climates, and rich soil.
Coffee was discovered by a goat herder in Ethiopia in the 1500s – he noticed a change in their behaviour after they consumed coffee cherries, they didn’t sleep at night and they had increased energy levels. The herder told his story to local monks, who discovered that they could stay up all night and pray if they made a drink from the coffee beans. Word of this remarkable bean soon spread worldwide.
It’s actually a fruit if you think about it. Coffee beans grow on a bush, and they’re the pit of a berry, which classifies them as fruit. There are two primary bean varieties – red and green. Red beans have a deeper fragrance because they’re less acidic, while red beans are used in the production of lighter coffees. Then there are two types of coffee – arabica and robusta. Arabica was first cultivated on the Arabian Peninsula, hence the name, while robusta coffee is a more hardy plant, with double the caffeine content. The most expensive coffee in the world is called “Kopi Luwak” and it comes from Indonesia. Made from beans that have passed through the digestive system of the Asian Palm Civet, this mongoose poop can sell for €350 and up per kilo!
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