Coffee can be delicious for many different reasons. The first one for many drinkers is the sense of security that the beverage provides -- whether ensuring that one will be able to stagger out of the house in the morning, stay awake during vital meetings, or be able to meet a late-night deadline. The second is that coffees do not taste all the same so to have one that defies the negative stereotypes of "burnt tar" and "black acid" is rewarding in and of itself. A third reason I will pose here is that coffee goes well with many foods, so it contributes more taste to something else with taste. I know I am opening myself up for criticism on this front, since some people will strike the metaphor that coffee tastes like vodka (both liquids being essentially tasteless). I happen to like the taste of vodka too, so maybe my taste buds are the ones that should be scrutinized.
Onto the main topic, since I am offering due praise today, I can actually mention the subject of my blog openly. I am eternally grateful for websites, so the presentation of basic facts regarding any topic is done in a more refined and comprehensive way than I could do.
For those of you who have not been to Taipei, please go and experience the best of East Asian culture. Occasionally derided for being a "provincial metropolis" (oxymoron not withstanding) and second-tier compared to neighboring cities such as Tokyo and Hong Kong, it is actually the finest place in the region if one wants to enjoy productive blends of local and foreign culture at reasonable prices. Taipei's culture is neither flashy nor overly expensive, and is available in idiosyncratic doses all over the city, not just in dedicated "cultural districts" [a jibe at my current place of residence-->you can read about all the controversies regarding the West Kowloon C.D. --> for the pravda description, see http://www.wkcda.hk/]. Moreover, Taipei is a very inclusive place. The city's residents are generally friendly and welcome foreigners, two qualities found in lesser degrees within East Asia's other metropolitan zones. Therefore, all in all, Taipei is a soulful, multi-faceted place, preserving quality culture (high and low) in modest forms.
Jeanlook Coffee [http://www.jeanlook.com.tw/] embodies this spirit of Taipei. Two of my great friends from graduate school took me there as part of my first walk around a section of Da'an district that I had never explored before. We had dessert and coffee before a sumptuous and properly spicy Sichuanese dinner at Kiki's [http://www.kiki1991.com/]. Far from spoiling our appetites, the filtered coffee and sweets were perfect appetizers, bracing our stomachs for peppercorns and chilis galore. Moreover, the ambiance of Jeanlook, where one can have a quick cup upstairs at the to-go stand or descend into the cavernous basement to watch the baristas (literally working in an eye-level open configuration much like a sushi bar) and chat with friends while listening to instrumental jazz pumped in at a delicate volume. One barista worked steadily on extracting one pot of siphon coffee for the full hour that we were there, methodically working through each step with the solemnity of a religious officiant. Behind him, a board advertised courses on coffee science (brewing, tasting, appraising) aimed, I imagined, at attracting participants who treat coffee as a topic of intellectual pursuit.
I admit that I may have been attracted to Jeanlook for the qualities that I rarely enjoy in other establishments. Jeanlook gained many points for not being crowded, having polite customers who were not trying to show off, and moreover, looked like they were savoring the taste of their coffee, neither falsely nor pretentiously. Furthermore, Jeanlook reminds me of a coffee place that has featured on Wiser Half's blog [http://www.marshaln.com/?s=Jaho], Jaho Coffee in Salem, Massachusetts [http://www.jaho.com/pages/about-us]. Jeanlook is more European than Jaho, whether in interior design, food and beverage portion sizes, and such, but both places share the same understated sophistication which makes drinking coffee (quietly) pleasurable...