The Mother Cup

Did you ever search for something for years, even decades, and then… you found it? It’s so wonderfully gratifying when that happens, no matter how seemingly insignificant the object of the search might be. For my part, I spent most of my adult life searching for The Mother Cup…

I didn’t call it that when I first met it. The Mother Cup back in 1976 was the first café con leche that I had in the Canary Islands, on the island of Tenerife, in the fishing village of El Médano. It was outstandingly delicious, and I got used to drinking it during the two half-year stints I did living in Spain back then. The other coffee I adored was called un cortado in the Canaries. It was espresso with sweetened condensed milk served in a tiny glass. If you try a Vietnamese coffee over at New Century Restaurant on Kirpatrick Street, you’ll have an idea of what it tastes like.

So I returned to the States and spent the next thirty years looking for a decent cup of coffee. During that time, tastes changed in this country and bit by bit, good espresso could be found in some cities (forget Starbucks – it’s always over-roasted). But I found it impossible to get a barista to duplicate what by then had become The Mother Cup (you know… the first one becomes your mother). It wasn’t until I described it to Matt Godard at Cafe Kubal that I finally got what I’d been searching for. He understood how to pull just the right number of shots of espresso and exactly how much steamed milk to put into it and just how much foam I did not want. Upon that first sip, the skies opened up, the angels sang (en español) and I was instantly transported back to Tenerife, to warm beaches and the tallest mountain in Spain, Tenerife’s volcano “El Teide“.

Now I can get that cup of coffee any time I walk over to Cafe Kubal at the Eastwood Plaza. It never ceases to amaze and delight me. You can try it, too. Just ask for The Mother Cup.

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Two young women enjoy a Canarian café con leche and un cortado
in the café halfway up the side of El Teide.

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