Coffee tastes better when paired with an unexpected experience.

Living on the beach in the Dominican Republic.

Large coffee chains like Starbucks know the coffee-drinking experience is paired with the space in which you enjoy it.

That’s why Starbucks coffee shops have a very particular look, feel and atmosphere.

Other coffee chains know this too. They all aim for a unique feel and character.

And, of course, they weave in tales of coffee being sourced from exotic locations. They talk about the benefits of small batch roasting, and love of the bean.

It’s all part of a story designed to add another layer of flavor to your brew.

It’s all good.

It all contributes to our enjoyment of the coffee we buy.

But sometimes the best coffee can be enjoyed in the most unlikely of places.

Coffee on the beach in the Dominican Republic.

Making coffee with an old Bialetti over a gas burner.

There is no private ownership of beaches allowed in the Dominican Republic. Every beach is open to everyone.

During a recent trip, my wife and I came across an elderly man living on a small stretch of beach. He had a dog, two cats and about half a dozen chickens.

He was friendly too. He offered us coffee.

As you can see, he used a Bialetti coffee maker over a gas ring.

All very basic. And he served the coffee in small plastic cups.

Coffee served in small plastic cups. And... the coffee was great!

No cream and little too much sugar.

But it was great. A thick, rich brew.

And it was made better by the place, and the circumstances.

Sharing coffee in the most unlikely of places.

The kindness of a stranger.

An unforgettable experience.

At the time I wondered how that coffee would have tasted if I were drinking it back in my hotel room.

Would it have tasted as good?

How much of the coffee drinking experience is truly about the beans and the roast… and how much is about the place, the people, and the memories created?

Tough call.

Read more of my coffee opinion posts.

In these posts I share my thoughts and opinions on various aspects of gourmet coffee – sometimes thoughtful, and sometimes more lighthearted. Find my posts here...

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