When you just can’t espresso yourself (Raglan, NZ)


Nearly a month ago I packed up my life. I put my room into boxes and stuffed them in the closet so the subletter could move in. I threw a handful of tank tops, my new pair of sneaks and a billion jars of contact lens solution into one backpack. I hopped on a plane and I landed from said plane and made a plan. I figured out where to go and who to talk to what bus I needed to catch. I felt lonely and lost and excited and ready. I didn’t cry once which was surprising and learned how to shower in less than two minutes which was equally as shocking if not more.

I have tried things and met people and eaten more apples than I ever have in my entire life simply because they’re cheap and easy. In the past month my life has changed. It has been filled with some of the most wonderful people and places I could’ve hoped to spend this time with. It has been packed with confusing situations and language barriers and bank account stresses. Transit misses and overpriced sandwiches; towels that just won’t dry and luggage that won’t zip up and places you can’t fucking find even after asking SIX PEOPLE for directions. This past month has been filled with an endless stream of successes and obstacles.

But by far, the biggest obstacle of all?  

Ordering coffee.

Case in point #1: I mean, I just ordered a short black thinking that meant a small black coffee. And like, sure. I realize that was stupid of me to begin with. But as a sheltered Canadian drinking gas station double doubles every day, who was I to think I could tackle the NZ coffee menu where drip coffees are kept secret at every cafe?

So, I ordered a short black with extra milk and sugar on the side because I didn’t trust them to doctor up my coffee the way I wanted.

“To Go,” I specified. “I’ve only got about half an hour so I might want to bring it with me,” feeling the need to justify my to-go request because who wants to be that asshole that wastes a takeaway cup just to sit in the cafe and throw it in the trash. What a waste.

So instead of being that asshole, I was the dumbass who thought it would take a half hour to drink a short black.

It came out in the smallest cup I had ever seen. The pile of milk and sugar beside it was significantly larger than the coffee itself, and I was embarrassed. So I drank it in approximately one minute and shoved the sugar in my purse because I am on a budget, people.

Case in point #2: Coffee here is expensive as shit. It is a $5 commitment every morning for a regular brewed coffee (NOT a short black, in case anyone out there is still confused by this). When I discovered this on day one, I vowed to go off coffee for a while in order to allocate that $5 towards something more valubale (read: beer). But after the third caffeine headache I decided nothing was worth this and splurged for a morning brew. So now, every time I order one I have this insane moral dilemna where I’m trying to map out my expenses for the day to see if I can justify a coffee. And the lines move fast and all the sudden I’m at the cash and I’m sweating and panicking and I obviously order one because it’s too weird to just get out of line, and they smile and take my money and I’m just there, $5 poorer and a whole coffee unhealthier all because I’m scared of getting a stupid headache.

Case in point #3: Due to case #2, the best kept secret of this country is that half the hostels provide free coffee and half don’t – so finding the ones that do is crucial in avoiding both points #1 and #2. You save yourself the embarrassment AND you save yourself the dough.

However, this isn’t really a factor you can consider when every hostel in town is booked up, so it’s always a moment of truth situation when they’re handing you your keys and giving you a rundown of the amenities.

“Kitchen is that way,” they say. “Don’t forget to label your food and help yourself to some free coffee in the morning.”

“YES! YOU HAVE COFFEE!” you exclaim. And then the joy of that situation is instantly gone because now you’re the loser who gets that excited about coffee. And let’s be honest – we all have those people in our lives; the ones that wake up in the morning and make a big, over the top show out of the  “oh, I haven’t had my coffee yet so nobody speak or or move or smile or live normally” situation. Now I’m that person and I couldn’t be more ashamed.

So basically, you can’t win. You’re either embarrassed or broke. The only winning time was when I was in such a blissful and lazy mood in the beautiful beach town of Pahia that i just ordered one as I walked along the water. It was quite possibly the most delicious thing I’ve ever tasted. So much so that I recommended it to a fellow traveller who appeared to have a similar experience.

I suppose, perhaps, this is the lesson afterall. To just accept that I am going to order a coffee every morning for the rest of my life, and there’s no sense stressing about such an unavoidable situation. Instead I’ll embrace the fact that I am an ADULT and I can spend my $5 on whatever the eff I want to.

Also, I just realized ‘brew’ refers to both coffee and beer, no? Either I’ve never realized this before or I’ve never made the connection that my two favourite things both fall under the same beautiful title. Either way, I’m very happy about this.



  1. John van den Broek says:

    Hey Leah …. I’m assuming you really miss Tim Horton’s.

    Sounds like you are you are having a great time away from home. I love reading your posts and looking
    forward to the next one. All the best!!


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