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hotel coffee

One of my great joys in life in in-room coffee. Hotels do a lot of head-scratching things, like inventing ‘turn-down service.’ Aside from a free piece of chocolate, does anyone like or want someone rummaging through their room while they’re out at dinner? Or the “hotel channel”, which shows and glorifies the splendors of your hotel, which is kind of silly since you’re already there. Plus it always takes me a few days to figure out how to bypass that channel and get to the tv stations. (Although it takes me quite a bit longer to get that syrupy music from the hotel channel out of my head.) But I’m a happy hotel camper when I find a coffee-maker in my hotel room, wherever I find myself in the morning.

Last night I arrived in Sydney, Australia. It’s a multi-day trip from Paris; I left my apartment at 8:15am and arrived here the following evening at 9:20pm. I don’t have my calculator out, nor do I want to pull out my airplane ticket yet again, so you’ll have to take my word for it: it’s a big trip. Plus it’s hard arriving somewhere at night, especially in a modern city like Sydney, where you can’t really see anything – just a lot of streetlights, illuminated windows in buildings, and traffic lights. And while I had a hankering to take a little stroll and get some fresh air and see a bit of the city, I hit the sack and was in bed by ten o’clock.

One of my crosses to bear is a life-long lack of sleep. It’s a by-product of working in restaurants for nearly three decades, mostly night shifts, and one I’m not happy that’s followed me into my retirement. One of my first jobs was a place where my hours were 10pm to 6am, which was really screwy because it was weird going home to bed and passing everyone else on the way home who was just waking up. (If you want to experience the real meaning of the term “parallel universe”, work an all-night restaurant shift.) In subsequent years, my hours became a little tamer and when people say “You’re a baker, you’re used to getting up early!” I would shake my head, because after that one summer of hitting the sack at 7am, I decided that I would only work at night. Which meant that I would usually get home at 2am and watch back to back re-runs of The Love Boat or Charlie’s Angels. (I don’t know how many diners at the restaurant realized that in the kitchen, we were often talking about how Sabrina Duncan got out of a harrowing situation involving a Columbian drug lord, or what the heck the producers were thinking by introducing a sudden niece to Captain Stubing, rather than if the vinaigrette needed more salt or the strawberry ice cream could use another shot of lemon juice.) Once home, the late-night dinner on my couch was often a bag of tortilla chips accompanied by a jar of Mrs Renfro’s salsa, and glass or two of Sauvignon blanc, then nodding off at around 3 or 4 am.

But then I would wake up a few hours later, at 7am, for a full day of taking care of things, regular daily tasks like banking, walking the dog, going to the movies, etc…then heading to work in the late afternoon to do another shift that would end, once again, well after midnight. That went on for a number of years and I could not have gotten through them without coffee. I drank a lot of coffee. Coffee first thing in the morning, an espresso mid-day to keep me going, a cappuccino when I got into work, then at least one or two coffees during my shift to keep me moving. Restaurant workers are like sharks – if we stop moving, we die.

I’ve spent a majority of my life not sleeping, so jet-lag is no big deal. I feel wacked-out during all my waking hours. It’s funny when people make some remark that I was impolite, or missed a vowel, or didn’t answer a message, or was acting like an alien from another reality somewhere, because in my own reality – and daily life – it’s amazing I am able to function at all.

(But I am sure the editor of my next book would be happy if I spent some of those extra hours working on what I should be working on, rather than writing an ode to in-room coffee.)

tv light

For a while I quit the brew. I don’t remember why, but I do remember what prompted me to pick up the pot again was working on opening a restaurant for someone and working a minimum of at least eighteen hours a day. It was the only time in my life I recall that I could not get out of bed in the morning on my one day off, Sunday, which was the day the restaurant was closed. That brought me right back to the bean.

But in addition to restaurant work-induced sleep deprivation, even appliances are conspiring to keep me from sleeping. Like, little green lights on cell phone rechargers that miraculously illuminate an entire room, or television on-off lights that stay on even when you turn the television off—I have no idea why they’re there..are they just to remind you that there’s a television in the room? As in, all night long?

While I doubt there is an international conspiracy, spanning from San Francisco to Sydney, to keep me from sleeping, it seems to be something Australians are particularly familiar with because I woke up this morning – at about 4am – to a note from a friend in Sydney, “If my experience of jet lag is anything to go by, you will be reading this at about 4am.” So maybe that little light is a webcam in my room, or else my sleep-deprived mind is…once again…going into overtime and playing tricks on me.

Sydney harbor

Here I sit, not all that long after 4am has passed, drinking coffee and watching and waiting for the sun to come up so I can finally see what Sydney looks like, and see what looks like a castle in the distance. Or maybe I’m hallucinating about that, too. Thankfully there’s my in-room coffee that I can drink until something, somewhere, opens for breakfast. True, it’s not the fancy stuff in the room, but I’ve learned that if you brew it with hardly any water, it does the trick. And as I write, the sun is slowly coming up, the sky over the Sydney harbor is light gray, rather than pitch black, and I see a few boats making their way across the still water. Although it’s sixteen stories down, I’m heading downstairs in search of real coffee. I have a premonition that somewhere down there, it’s out there. Unless my mind is playing tricks on me. Which at this point, is – well – entirely probable.



    • Vicky

    Oh my gosh – this looks almost exactly like the view we had from the Intercontinental in Sydney : if so, well, you are in for a WONDERFUL hotel experience!

    • Paul

    What a random coincidence to find myself in the same city as you for a few hours. The coffee in Australia, I have found, to be of generally much higher quality than what I was used to back home in New York, where 50-cent bodega coffee used to be the norm. Should you find yourself 3 hours southwest in Australia’s capital, give a shout and I can give you some pointers on places to check out!

    • Hali Keenan

    Hi David, I’m a traveling/ recovering pastry cook/bread baker/restaurant slut (lived in a stupid amt of places) and a big fan of your ramblings and recipes. Just moved to Lyon from Edinburgh (would love to hook up for a pastis one day if you’re ever in the region) but more importantly, you’re in Sydney and I want to make sure that you have breakfast at Bills (scrambled eggs), and dinner at Kylie Kwongs (duck w/ plum sauce) Fishface (ANYTHING) and if you’re feeling homesick Onde, has a steak frites I would trade my own Mother for (and I like my Mother) as well as sexy desserts. I’d prioritize Kylie Kwongs and Fishface, but of course I’m sure you’ve had plenty of reccs. Enjoy your time there.

    • Chrissy @

    What a great way to start your trip. I love arriving in a city at night and then waking up to a totally different world – there’s something so mysterious about it. Have a wonderful time!

    • Angela

    Welcome to Sydney, David. Enjoy your first flat white (or short black, or long black, if you can figure out the coffee ordering system here). You’ll be relieved to know that Sydneysiders have high standards when it comes to coffee.

    Will you be doing any book-signing events, outside of the World Chef’s Showcase?

    • adrian

    David, one of your next trips must take you to South Africa! In addition to all the beauty there you have the bonus of no jet-lag.
    Enjoy Sydney. I hope you’re staying a while, long enough to make the trip worth its while.


    • Angela

    Also, wanted to add that I second Hali’s recommendation for Billy Kwong (Kylie’s restaurant). And for a more downmarket adventure, go for a big bowl of laksa at Malay Chinese 58 Hunter street, just a few blocks from your hotel. Laksa is kind of a Sydney specialty you shouldn’t miss while you’re here.

    • tim

    There is some great laksa in that town. enjoy.

    • Liv @ The Salty n’ Sweet

    I could never give up coffee. What’s the point when it gives me so much happiness in life?? Lucky for me, turns out coffee reduces depression in women.

    I’m sure that the excitement in exploring Sydney will get you up and moving once the sun comes up! Have you ever been there before?

    • Ana

    I’ve had to give up coffee before and its always been a painful process. Especially after working as a Barista for two years I could never give up coffee, I try to keep it to a cup a day.

    • suzie

    enjoy sydney! if you want some amazing malaysian roti bread (and an amazingly cheap meal) go to mamak! they make it in store :)

    • Mrs. Châtelaine in Paris

    Couldn’t agree more, in-room coffee is where it’s at! :-)

    xox Mrs. Châtelaine in Paris

    • Norine

    David, if you close your eyes, you will not see those little lights. You cannot sleep with your eyes open, honest. The blog title made me wonder if you brought your own beans; but TSA probably would have a fit over that, too. In-room coffee usually is awful/acidic and is made worse only by the cornstarch creamer. It’s one of the puzzlements of hotel rooms. Nevertheless, enjoy Sydney. It sounds wonderful.

    • Gaby

    Welcome to Sydney, David! Looking forward to seeing you at the World Chef Showcase! BTW, don’t let this crappy weather turn you down, Sydney is beautiful when the sun shows up.

    • Nikla

    You are in for a crazy day, David – we have wild weather warnings for today! But enjoy – Sydney is one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Go over to Mrs Macquarie’s chair on the other side of the botanical gardens and look back towards the opera house and bridge and wonder why you would want to live anywhere else.

    Email me if you want a guide for the weekend – I live 10mins down the road from the city and we can take you to some hidden treats (everyone keeps saying Kylie Kwong’s resturant – but she features at the Everleigh markets on a Sat morning, cooking at a storm at a stall – far easier that trecking up to Surry Hills. – get off at Redfern Station (only 3 stations past Circular Quay or Wynard).

    • Joan

    OMG, YES! I do want them rummaging around my room while I’m at dinner! Love turndown service! Couldn’t care less about the chocolate, but coming back to the room to find it all tidied up with fresh towels, that little triangle toilet paper fold and all that extra bedding tucked away for the night…? Heaven!

      • David
      David Lebovitz

      I’m just not a fan of people knocking on my hotel room door, cleaning it twoice a day, and/or coming in and moving things around. (I was at a hotel once and the housekeeper took all my computer cables and put them in a drawer, probably thinking they were doing me a favor. It was in a pretty remote location and I really panicked, thinking I’d lost them or they were stolen. I finally found them…the last day!)

    • Brooke @ Food Woolf

    David, What a lovely post. Thank you for reminding me of the crazy hours, the addiction to coffee, and why I love our business.

    • bee smith gilbert

    Go to Macleay St Potts Point head down to Challis Avenue to Frattelli Paridiso for brealfast, lunch, dinner, good Italian food and no nonsense!

    • Marie

    Cover those lights with duct tape. That might do the trick.

    • CM

    David, I have a baby and a toddler, and I feel your sleep-deprived pain. Enjoy Sydney.

    • Joanna Noel

    There’s not too many things I love more than coffee. Thanks for the great post- I can relate as a freelance graphic designer :) Keep up the great work!

    • Glenn

    Dude-I feel your caffeine laden thoughts. Now, take a nap (for 12 hours or so), and return.

    • Anna

    love this. i quit coffee several years ago but i miss it every day.

    • Jessica

    Hmm, I’m one of those perma sleep-deprived people too, often just because I like staying up late, but feel guilty sleeping in. When I flew to NZ a year and a half ago, I barely slept on the 12 hour flight, arrived at 5:30am, then went to bed after midnight with no naps, and was totally fine the next day. Of course coffee was involved, but not a ton. And I just applied for a bakery job with a 10pm-8am shift, but don’t think I got it. Ah, well… Enjoy Sydney!

    • Hannah

    My heart is full of joy and wonderment and glee and fabulousness and joy (again) to know you’re in my country. I am sorry for the jet lag (having done the 30+ hr trek from Canberra New York several times in recent years, I know how hellishly interminable the flights can seem), but oh! Thank you for coming! I cannot wait to read about everything, everything.

    I only wish I had to courage to quit my job so I could make it to Sydney to see you.

    P.S. Do you want a volunteer PA? I’ll totally keep you stocked with endless coffee… our coffee is generally so much better than that in-room malarkey!

    • Emma

    Ohh, malarkey!

    I had a stint of having a latte once a week for roughly 10 months once, but that was a few years ago, and other than that, I don’t seem to be able to jump on the bean wagon. I feel like I’m missing out on some sort of great cult. ….A cult where the folk are appareled in green and red and blue and purple LEDs, stitched together from old appliances and charging devices. A cult where turn-down service is the norm, and folks line up to tell you where you SIMPLY MUST EAT NOW!

    I should probably start chugging along on the coffee train to reap these benefits, and soon.

    • Brenda

    Enjoy Australia David! Sydney have so much great places to go to, especially to eat!

    If you find yourself in Adelaide, South Australia, email me if you need a guide to great food and wine places here! Wineries in Australia are not to be missed!

    • Harriet

    David, thanks so much for the light bulb moment! I’ve always known that my complete dependence on coffee came about from my profession in pastry. But I never thought to link my insomnia to baker’s hours, especially since I’ve been out of the kitchen for a few months now. At least I can find some good reading in your blog in those wee sleepless hours.

    • David
    David Lebovitz

    Marie: Funny, because this morning I was thinking, “Gee, I should travel with black electrical tape.” But with my eye mask, earplugs, and a gazillion other sleep-aids to remember, I don’t know if I can remember one more thing.

    suzie: Interestingly, that’s where I had lunch! It was good, but the servers are a little overloaded. (I liked the fried chicken, though.)

    • pickyin @ LifeIsGreat

    I travel with my own coffee now, French press, beans and everything. Can’t stomach Nescafe no more but sometimes I make do with better quality instant espresso. I’d put my DND sign on for the entire week and the customer service/housekeeping managers would be concerned if I’m actually living in filth.

    On another note, you’d by now have heard of Bourke Street Bakery. I spent half a day there the last time I went. Plus point for you, their coffee is good.

      • David
      David Lebovitz

      I’ve tried putting the Do Not Disturb sign on the door, and letting them know that I don’t need the twelve towels in my room changed, but most of the time, I can hear them lurking outside my door with their cart, waiting for me to leave anyway. I was at a hotel in Austin, Texas that had a card you could leave on your doorknob in case you didn’t want your room serviced (it was a “green” gesture) – which was great. You also got a $5 voucher for the hotel bar (or restaurant), which made it a no-brainer…although I do miss the daily chocolate : )

    • Cate

    Welcome to Sydney David, so excited and happy to have you here! I hope you have a wonderful time. Can’t wait to hear about your travels.
    Sadly Sydney has not turned it’s usual sunny Spring on for you yet but we can experience all ‘four seasons in one day’ so bear with it! Oh and the ‘castle’ in the water you thought you saw was possibly “Fort Denison’ .

    • Claire

    I loved this post. I remember those night shifts and all the coffee. While I managed to return to normal sleep hours, I had children and I like naps, my husband still can’t. All those years in the restaurants have made for a couple with disfunctional sleep habits.
    However, we still always make time to have the a cup of coffee in the morning together. Thanks for reminiscence.

    • andrew

    Welcome to Sydney!

    Even though the staff are annoying you, you’ve got a great view there. I also love the atrium downstairs. The Botanic Gardens opens at dawn I understand, do go for a brisk early morning walk through there to Mrs Mac’s chair and back via the Opera House. It’s a great way to start the day.

    Enjoy your stay.

    • Francesca

    I am so excited that you have come to Sydney, I hope you have a wonderful time. While I know you will probably only have about a minute to spare, I definitely second the recommendations of Mamak (watching the roti being made is mesmerising) and Bourke Street Bakery (the ginger brulee tart). Even if you don’t make it to either, I look forward to hearing about your adventures.

    • David
    David Lebovitz

    Francesca: I went to Mamak for lunch today!

    andrew: Au contraire! The staff at the hotel has been great (and the breakfast is even better) – it’s just that when I travel, and when I want to sleep, I like to be left to my own devices.

    Cate: Funny, in my jet-lagged state, I wasn’t sure if it was a delusion…or a mini-golf course..

    • Victoria

    I’m sure you’ve had a slew of recommendations but if I’m guessing correctly from that picture, there is a great coffee place (that is MANIC at peak hour) on the corner of George St and Alfred St right down near circular quay (nice and close). It’s called Mecca espresso and they seem to be rather obsessive about their coffee … so in case in-room coffee doesn’t sustain, it should be a short walk from your hotel.

    • HungryGoose

    I had the best food while in Australia. I’m so excited that you went to Mamak’s. That was one of my favorite stops. The roti’s are sublime! I went back once more before the end of my trip but they were closed! I was very sad. Have you had the kebabs there yet? If you do please write about it! I still dream about them. They were so good, gyro type meat with sweet chili sauce wrapped in something like a roti and pressed like a panini..heaven!

    • Janice

    I stayed in King’s Cross years ago while in Sydney. I also arrived at night. In the morning, I found no coffeemaker, but only an electric kettle and packets of Sanka and Postum. I’m sure you will find better choices these days! Enjoy!

    • Doug

    Unfortunately, I suspect the in-room coffee in the vast majority of American hotels to be the sweepings off the floor of a coffee plantation in Alabama, even the ones with a celebrity chef’s name proudly imprinted on the bag.

    The best I’ve ever had, oddly enough, was at a resort just outside of Disneyworld in Orlando; it was Lavazza and made waking up almost pleasurable. Do most of the folks who own or run hotels not actually ever drink the stuff they serve to their guests? A recent stay in a “boutique hotel” in Chicago (which was nice, by the way) had really crummy coffee in-room, but the floor breakfast table had freshly brewed coffee that was, I suspect, much more heavily used than the in-room dreck.

    Profit above pleasure.

    • wendy

    omg you’re in Sydney! I was so excited to see you on the program but the showcase was just so much more expensive this year…

    anyway, if you’re in the mood for cakes, theres a fantastic bakery called sweet infinity in the strand arcade (about 100m from the hilton hotel) that does a tart crust to DIE for. everything there is a tad on the sweet side but so well executed.

    or if you’re in the mood for interesting take a walk through chinatown for breads and cakes of interesting execution. like the chocolate mayo and cheddar cheese bread at barby. sounds terrible but actually quite nice.

    and you should try one of the foam teas from chatime (purple sign, they’re EVERYWHERE) – vanilla foam on top of various flavoured teas.

    anyway, hope you enjoy sydney!

    • Geneva Ace

    Welcome to Oz David! Hope you have a great time, you have a good few followers here!

    • Janet

    I know some travelers who say they won’t touch an in-room coffeemaker because of some degree of germophobia. I find it a must and a deal breaker if a hotel doesn’t offer an easy-to-use set-up and a selection of coffees and teas.

    • melissa

    I totally hear you on those pointless lights that stay on all the time! Contrary to what commenter “Norine” said, I really do sleep with my eyes half open, and have since I was a baby (when it freaked my mom!).

    But I beg to differ on the in-room coffee maker – as a tea drinker, I really wish all hotels would provide a kettle instead. You can make tea and coffee with a kettle, but you cannot make tea in a coffee maker (believe me, I’ve tried. And poured it down the sink).

    • Michelle

    Great insights – I love the idea of brewing with less water!

    One of the best in-room coffee experiences I’ve had was at the Albion Hotel in East London. Freshly ground beans, French Press, fresh cream + milk delivered the night before (in tiny glass bottles; yes, these details matter), and a freshly baked pastry – all from their great little cafe below.

    I don’t know if was the coffee, the view of the old brick row houses, the stacks of cookbooks and design tomes on every flat surface, or the proximity to Labour + Wait…but it was one of the best hotel experiences I’ve had.

    Luckily, I was caffeinated enough to fully experience it all.

    • melissa lee



    • Genesee

    I know this bears little relevance to this post as you are actually not in Paris at the moment, but I came across this quote in my comparative political systems textbook and immediately thought of, well, you!

    See if you concur…
    Roskin (the author) contends that “the French tend to be mistrustful, fear face-to-face relationships, have compartmentalized personalities, and accord their political system low legitimacy.” He also goes on about thirty pages about their notorious bureaucracy, and from previous posts, I think you feel his pain. :)

    • Norine

    Oh, Melissa, that was a tongue in cheek comment. I do empathize with the non-sleep issues. Yes, I, too, occasionally sleep with my eyes half open and it does freak others out. Where I presently live it is so unbearable hot I’ve gotten out of sleep sync and think I am narcoleptic – except when it is night. It’s strange what affects ones sleep/rest. Oh for some damp coolness or some cool dampness – whatever, just so long as there is good (African or Indonesian) coffee and flaky pastries near.

    • carolyn

    David,I love your blog and for the first time am writing in response to your insomnia or whatever it is you call it.You are so much more accepting of it than me.I work in the catering industry and find that even coming home at 2am it takes me a couple of hours to wind down from the adrenaline rush that goes with feeding 200 people without too many disasters.Have a great time in Sydney

    • Paolita@BerryHaute

    You are a brave soul, I’ve never had anything come out of those in-room coffee makers that was even marginal coffee, if I have to, I go for the tea…..

    • AnnaZed

    That looks so lovely and fun, have fun!

    Oh those light emitting diodes of doom, I curse them ~ I hate them.

    My solutions are to (a) charge the phone in the bathroom with the door closed and (b.) locate that TV indicator light and put a pillow in front of it, or something.

    • Louise

    Completely unconnected to this: just wanted to say that I am currently reading Sweet Life and thoroughly enjoying it. I lived in Paris 15 years ago and you brought back bitter (no, not bittersweet…) memories of the RIB, the green brooms and that constant gaze. Looking forward to cooking some of the recipes and blogging about it.

    • Sheryl Wright

    Ah, I’m sitting in our gardeninProvence and suddenly homesick for Sydney. You must be at the Intercontinental. Hopefully you will find great coffee,it’s all there if you avoid the tourist traps. Go to Paddington Alimentari and have a coffee for me, I miss it so much (but still love living in France) and definitely Kylie Kwongs for the best Asian food in the world.

    • parisbreakfast

    Where I stay in London, I give Manuel (straight from Faulty Towers) a tener to stayout of my room altogether = perfection.
    If you have any jet lag tricks up yr sleeve do tell.
    Have a swell time!

    • J.R. Williams

    I share in your love for coffee. It’s just so darn tasty!

    I liked the way you told your story of working the nightshift and running on three hours of sleep. It made for a great read. Thanks for sharing.

    • derryanne

    Hello David,
    I love your blog. You are so interesting!! Well, I can’t comment on Sydney or where to go to eat as I have never been. But I can comment on your sleep patterns. I have had insomnia since I was 8 and found wandering around the house at 2 am by my parents. It is a strange feeling to be up all night with all that comes with that and going to bed in the morning. I too LOVE/NEED my coffee!!

    • Doukissa

    Castle? What castle? David, I luv ya just the way you are . . . coffee or no coffee!

    • susan in L.A.

    Mrs. Renfro’s green salsa was the only stuff in a jar worth a damn. Yum!

    • Rachel Willen

    Love that bit about the cooks talking TV in the kitchen…nailed it! But don’t you hate hotel coffee? Do you carry your own brew from home? I guess, when you need it, coffee is coffee, is coffee!

    • Meridith Moore

    When in Santa Barbara, Anthony Bourdin stays at the Inn of The Spanish Garden and he is so smart to do so. Excellent on many levels, this quaint, hidden Inn stocks a Breville electric kettle in every room with top grade coffee and teas!

    • Robert

    Melissa, you’ve touched on a hot issue for me. I’m a confirmed tea-aholic. I travel a lot and am usually (not always) dismayed at how hotels treat us tea drinkers. Coffee folks get the latest beans and devices; tea folks are likely to find an old dusty tea bag and have to rely on a coffee maker to heat the water. So basically you end up with a cup of what I call “coff-tea.” This happens elsewhere as well, when they serve hot water in coffee carafes. Anyway, here’s how I cope: 1) often bring my own submersible water heater; 2) definitely bring my own tea bags; 3) if I have to use the coffee maker, take the water straight to the cup and don’t let it touch the filter holder, even if it splashes a bit; 4) I’m still looking for a lightweight travel tea cup, preferably in porcelain. I don’t like paper and the “coffee cups” usually wreak of java; 5) if I get coff-tea in a restaurant, I send it right back.

    To all you tea aficionados living in a coffee world, Salut! Let’s hold our grounds…err, let’s hold our leaves high!

    • Hank Greenwald

    You live in Paris and you’re visiting Sydney. It doesn’t get much better
    than that. There are no more beautiful places in the world. Who wants
    to sleep?

    • Maria/Maja

    Your post and thoughts about In-room coffee are so familiar…..I too brew it with hardly any water ………

    • Geraldine in Spain

    G’day Mate! Hope you’ve had a flat white and are ready to face the most beautiful BAY you will ever see in your life, no joke! Those Sydneysiders know how to live.

    THIS IS AN ORDER coming from the last queen of the last Waratah festivil, with MISS MARILYNB BYRNES in 1968…honest to god, some day I’ll explain…anyway, don’t even think of leaving the area w/o going to HOBART and Launceston TASMANIA. The food there is so spectacular you will think you’re dreaming. And Tas is something off the map GORGEOUS. Get to the beaches, eat the KING ISLAND cheese and then tell me what you think.

    ENJOY to the max, I’m green witn envy….just call me froggy…

    Will be in PARIS in February. Geraldine in Spain

    • Lemon

    Sydney, what a great place. So many nice little restaurant with delicious food, sometimes with Asian influence, sometimes just international.

    • Rebecca

    If my experiences in coffee shops owned by Aussies and Kiwis is any indication, you’re in for some amazing coffee experiences! All the best coffees I’ve ever had have been made by people from down under!

    • Lize

    I did the trip from Sydney to Paris 73 days ago… I actually flew into London but had the joys of a 6 hours stop over in Orly… door to door time.. 39 hours!! Nightmare.. happy to be here but your view from The Intercontinental (Im guessing) makes me slightly homesick!! If you are there for long enough, The Bunker on the corner of Liverpool St and Victoria St, Darlinghurst make THE BEST coffee… Otherwise go anywhere which sell Campos and you will find a nice coffee :) Enjoy Sydney!!

    • David
    David Lebovitz

    Rebecca: interestingly, there’s a few new places in Paris that are trying to raise the bar on the coffee culture (and quality) in the city and the best of the lot are run by…Australians!

    Anna: I often hang towels or things over those lights, too. But often they’re on the thermostat, television, recharger, bedside clock, etc.. Why are they so bright?

    Lize: Yikes, Orly isn’t such a great airport – and the food options are pretty grim. Luckily I had my layover in Abu Dhabi, so I had some decent Arabic fare.

    Robert & Melissa: My hotel has a water kettle so one could make either. Although that means I’m relegated to instant coffee. Well, at least until the local café opens!

    Sheryl: I met Kylie last night and am definitely planning on going to the restaurant this week. She was absolutely charming; am sure the food is as great as I’ve heard.

    • Oakjoan

    Huzzah! Somebody else knows Mrs. Renfro’s green chili salsa! Wahoo!

    If your Aussie trip includes Melbourne, you should try Wall 280. Wonderful breakfast of granola with stewed rhubarb on top. Great coffee, too.

    I see they have a branch in Sydney just called the Wall….maybe they have the rhubarb deal as well.

    • Michelle

    The castle is government house – were the Governor Lady Marie Bashir lives – it’s a gorgeous spot. Would make a fine golf course though….

    Enjoy Sydney

    • Kristin Friedersdorf

    Like many others who have commented, I really identify with your relationship with coffee & the pleasure of an in-room coffee maker. On some trips, I avoid even taking the chance of whether I will have coffee access and bring course grounds along with a french press to-go mug. Sure, I might look crazy for packing a Ziploc bag full of coffee grounds into my suitcase. But then a fresh cup of java in the morning is almost guaranteed– and surely the suitcase space sacrificed is better than the desperation of a coffee-less morning? Then there’s just the pesky matter of finding hot water that you need to worry about.

    • Peter Gohler

    Reading this at 4am while waiting for breakfast. Thank you David for all you do.

    • Heide

    How the heck do you get time to write your awesome blogs and read all the comments, and travel all over the world, well almost all over the world? I personally think you must be pretty amazing..are you human???..

    • Kerstin

    Fitting post for (Inter)National Coffee Day! It was the 29th though, I think it’s already the 30th for you…

    • Deb Allard

    I am the same way about coffee when I travel, though my undiagnosed OCD usually kicks in while packing, and I go off with instant coffee bags (they’re horrible) and strong tea bags just in case. I’ve been known to hunt down hot water in many a destination! A couple of times, driving to Montreal from Massachusetts, I brought my own 4 cup coffee maker just in case the hotel did not have in-room coffee.

    • Margie

    This post perked me up and got me brewing. I worked as an all-night telephone operator in a small town that claimed two-colleges. (9 p.m., to 6 a.m.)
    Oh the memories :) Thanks for the joy of reliving my younger days. I’m off now to grind myself into nirvana.

    • Jonathan Lawlor

    David, don’t know whether you knew/had been notified but Amazon are showing one of your articles on a tablet advertising their new Kindle Fire.

    Hope you get a good reward for it :-)

    • eileen

    Ahhh, the simple pleasures: in-room coffee has become mandatory in so many hotels/motels. One of the first things I do after checking in is ask for several more packets. For 20+ yr I’ve travelled for business and pleasure with a Braun travel pot (dual voltage, 2 cups, metal filter, and sugar/pwd creamer all fit inside.) Tis smaller than one man’s shoe and has never failed. They seem obsolete as many have asked about them. I will not use an immersion coil, klutz that I am. Abhorring styrofoam and disliking paper cups, if there aren’t porcelain/china mugs I ask the concierge. Most cities have coffee or grocery stores where you can purchase a small amount of freshly ground or their “instant” which is often superior to the US. BTW, my fav coffee in the world is cafe machado in Spain: dark, thick, not oily likeItalian or bitter like French, with a dab of steamed milk. TY—eileen the caffeine addict

    • ParistoCapeCod

    The salvation of in-room coffee: Starbucks (The Evil Empire) VIA packets. Tiny ampoules of strong powdered coffee, regular or decaf. Especially if travelling with kids, running downstairs fully dressed for breakfast before the first cup isn’t always an option.They are even available at Safe travels!

    • Dave

    Love that line: ‘Restaurant workers are like sharks – if we stop moving, we die’! So true.. People think you’re crazy drinking 5+ coffees a day, but working in restaurants it’s commonplace. Long days with irregular hours, the coffee bean is your saviour

    • Andrew

    Congratulations Rock Star! You’ve made it into our papers and you’re way up the front in the photo!

    So you’ve lived a life of mixing it with some great chefs over the years. Do you ever get nervous around any particular chefs these days?

    Enjoy Bourke St Bakery – don’t forget their lamb and harissa sausage roll.

    Also, can you do me a huge favour please – could you pop over to Haberfield (little Italy) and go to Pasticceria Papa and try their baked ricotta tart. It is a secret recipe that only the 4 brothers/owners know. Are you able to work out the recipe for us please? It is one of the most sublime cakes I’ve ever eaten!

    • Amanda

    Welcome to Australia David and, from the view, I’d say you are staying in the Intercontinental – one of my favourites.
    And don’t worry – we take coffee very seriously here in Oz, so you will have no trouble finding a decent cup.

    • Sally

    I leave that pod of ground coffee that they give you steep in the hot water in the pot or cup. Otherwise the coffee is utterly tasteless.
    I hate the places that just give you a little tube of Nescafe, but it is better than nothing I guess.

    • Victoria

    Had to read your paragraph about ALL THE LITTLE APPLIANCES ILLUMINATING YOUR ENTIRE ROOM out loud to my husband……that so describes my life. The tiniest of lights can drive me nuts and keep me awake for hours. I’ve started telling my friends I’m light sensitive because I have very thin eye lids.

    • Ann

    I need my sleep….but I know how much you need your in-room coffee! Glad the Aussie’s came thru for you!

    • calories fudge

    Cover those lights with duct tape. That might do the trick.

    • jean

    Straight from Globus to Sydney! Sadly there’s nothing quite up to the standard of Globus in Sydney . . . You can probably find a few foodie souvenirs in the David Jones food hall.

    • Ginny

    In room coffee is excellent. I love opening the door to a hotel room and finding a Nespresso pod espresso machine. So when I wake up in the mornings having that small shot of espresso really comes in handy. I love it and makes the getting ready fast in the morning to get out and enjoy the sites for the day!

    • Carol

    I love your blogs, David. My husband went to Paris for 2 days (from LA) and I insisted that he bring home macarons from Laduree. Incredible! Also had to read aloud your description of the night battle against the little lights. My husband doesn’t get why closing my eyes doesn’t solve the problem when he simply dims the bedroom lamps! You understand!

    • Lauren Moody

    Bills for breakfast. Darlinghurst or Surrey Hills. Scrambled eggs are amazing. Corn fritters with avocado and bacon work wonders too. Their coffee is perky!

    • Holiday Baker Man

    Nice! Looks like you are at the Intercon. A great hotel. Have a great trip!

    • Linda

    Forget the jet lag – how wonderful to have the opportunity to be in Sydney! I’m envious. Now, I wonder if the Bill’s restaurant recommended for breakfast is part of the same group as Bill’s in the UK. I recently had coffee (ha ha) there in Lewes in Sussex – what a great place. And I understand they have opened one in Covent Garden, London now as well. It is linked to a grocery store – you would love it David.

    • Lisa

    Welcome to this Yankee’s adopted home! I second the votes for Laksa sampling Sydney. Laksa House in the Queen Victoria Building (Queen Vic) is sensational, as is afternoon tea upstairs on the Queen Vic top floor. Gracious Sydney at tea time. Enjoy, now go get some laksa!

    • Galen

    We lived in Sydney for two years prior to moving back to San Francisco. We started reading your blog while we lived there, the combination of familiar food and expat american humor was a good cure for our home sickness. Of course, now we miss many things about Sydney. The piccolo latte at Toby’s in Potts Point still remains my favorite coffee in the world, even now that i’m surrounded by Blue Bottle in SF. Just make sure you ask for a “strong” piccolo latte. And Spice I Am in Surry Hills (not the new one Darlinghurt) is the best home style Thai food ever. Long grain, also in Surry Hills, is more refined and well worth the visit.

    Most importantly, the gelato. If you like Fenocchio gelato in Nice, and i know you do because we took your recommendation when we went there this summer!… you will LOVE Gelato Messina in Darlinghurst.

    • Kierston

    Great View!! Sydney is so gorgeous!! Should time permit, I would recommend fish and chips on the beach in Manly. Seems trite but it is my favorite thing to stuff myself with fresh fish and chips and ginger beer and walk along the beautiful Manly beach before catching the ferry back to Sydney :)

    • Anne

    David, the castle in the lower left-hand corner of your photo is the Sydney Conservatorium of Music. The building was originally built for the governor of NSW, Lachlan Macquarie’s, stables back in 1817.
    The governor’s wife used to like to sit on the rocks at the end of the peninsular off to the right. She had a chair carved into them by convicts, which is why the promontory is still call Mrs Macquarie’s Chair. The Macquaries used the area as a private park, they lived nearby at Government House in the Royal Botanic Gardens.

    • Belle

    Coffee is amazing. It’s not just the amazing caffeine in it, it’s that creamy smooth taste that slides into your mouth and magically wakes you up, that sweet aftertaste after you’ve let it linger on your tongue to taste all the ‘notes’… Ahh… Good ole coffee… It never fails. :) To give it up, I salute your willpower then.

    As for Sydney, I can but aspire to visit one day. There seems to be no end in sight for me in this hell hole called studying… :( Enjoy your trip and have tons of fun, food and a little of everything else!

    • fitzgerald

    you’re in Australia! this is awesome! come to melbourne, we have amazing coffee.

    • David
    David Lebovitz

    fitzgerald: I’m in Sydney for the Crave food festival, as a guest presenter, so I don’t think it’d be polite of me to leave and go elsewhere.

    • Mrs D

    “It’s funny when people make some remark that I was impolite, or missed a vowel, or didn’t answer a message, or was acting like an alien from another reality somewhere, because in my own reality – and daily life – it’s amazing I am able to function at all.”

    This is the reason I love you and love this site. Just sayin’!


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