Living in Switzerland over the last few years has given me a deeper perspective of this beautiful country. If it were a person, Switzerland would definitely come across as introverted, but then that is what makes it so attractive. It is so breathtakingly gorgeous that it doesn’t need to sing its own praise.
While Switzerland is a relatively small country in terms of size, it still has a lot of diversity and can broadly be divided into three parts-the German, the French and the Italian- each adjoining the respective namesake country. Now, this is something I didn’t know before I moved here. In my naivety I always felt that the people there would probably just speak one language (Swiss!). And I certainly did not expect them to speak French! As you would have guessed, I live in the French part of Switzerland (also known as the Swiss Riviera – but lets save that for another story). The other languages spoken by the Swiss include German, Italian as well as Romansh, which is a form of Latin.
Most tourists generally visit the Swiss German part and pass by Zurich, which is the largest city in Switzerland. I’ve been to Zurich 3 or 4 times since I started living here –often just to visit some of the touristy sites. This time, however, I was there for the first ever Swiss coffee festival. While my husband has been to a few of them including the last year’s World of Coffee festival, 2018 in Amsterdam, it was my first time at a coffee festival!
So if you’ve never been to a coffee festival this piece would be a good introduction to the world of coffee and if you have been to one, I’m sure you would be able to relate to it and perhaps compare how the Swiss chapter is similar or different.
Imagine being in a train station but except that no one seems to be in a hurry to leave. Big banners hanging from the ceilings with names you have never heard of-at least I hadn’t heard of.. So just like a train station has different platforms, the festival had a number of kiosks showcasing various elements of coffee. The main platform was the coffee championship where they were currently competing for the best latte art in a cup. My children especially enjoyed this part. There were a number of kiosks showcasing and selling various coffee equipment targeting the ‘home barista’ such as the Italian made Single Group coffee machines, state of the art coffee grinders and even café style cups and saucers to complete your experience at home! Then there was the coffee cupping stall where you could go and try different coffees. To make things more interesting, you could test your coffee palette to guess the origin of the coffee and even win a prize! Throughout the day there were also guest lectures addressing different topics on coffee from green coffee to roasting and even running your own store. The whole place smelled of freshly brewed coffee with little steam engines working on tiny magic beans spewing refreshing hot drinks! That’s exactly how it looked like to me. The steam engines were the coffee machines and the magic beans are of course the coffee beans collected from different parts of the world if you hadn’t guessed it already. My reaction to all this was a bit like Harry Potter when he first discovered the platform nine and three quarters!
If you are a coffee enthusiast you must visit a coffee festival to get a deeper insight into coffee from all the experts. Also, if you are not yet a coffee fan you should still just go to get a feel of the place because it is indeed a whole new world. The next world of coffee event for the year 2019 is happening in Berlin this June!
After spending three whole hours at the coffee festival we realized that we had spent the majority of the day at the festival and it was nearly time to head home. However, we managed to squeeze in a café on our way back home. This was the Monocle café in Zurich. Many of you might be familiar with the Monocle magazine – it’s my lifeline for English language publications here in Switzerland – and every month I wait for my subscription to turn up in the post! For those who aren’t – I highly recommend it for the unique perspectives on host of topics from political affairs to fashion and design and even culture. The cafes are a manifestation of the Monocle experience – each tastefully designed and decorated, and only in 6 locations around the world (including London and Hong Kong). So back to the one in Zurich. With options for both outdoor and indoor seating and an eclectic mix of magazines and newspapers on display, the Monocle café is a great place to spend some quality down time. And they have the shopaholics covered too with a curated selection of men’s clothing, some stylish stationery, very well designed bags and of course their own books on different topics. Even I couldn’t help splurging and among my purchases was the ‘The Monocle Guide to better Living’- a book that gives you an insider’s perspective on where to live around the world based on the business opportunities, quality of life, culture etc. And as with all Monocle publications, the paper and print quality coupled with their attention to design, makes reading an absolute joy. But I digress…. The café serves tasty coffee from a local roaster. It even got my husband’s approval as he was quick (and eager) to point out that the baristas were pulling espresso shots from a La Marzocco machine (the ‘one’ in his opinion). The afternoon quickly turned to evening and I felt like trying one of the signature cocktails on the menu before we hit the road – while our designated driver has to content himself with another shot of espresso. Overall a very ‘chic’ experience. Well done Monocle!
I will come back soon with my next adventure. Till then keep exploring and bon voyage!