My window seat was worthless. By the time we landed on Port Vila’s Bauerfield International Airport it was close to midnight and around us everything was pitch black. As I walk across the tarmac to the dimly lit immigration building with the other 15 or so passengers, an eerie, unexpected silence surrounds us.
Immigration is quick and easy, I take my luggage and soon I am in a small minivan en route to Devil’s Point. After a short ride over dark, unpaved roads I arrive at Benjor Beach Resort, where two security guards welcome me and walk me to my villa.
It’s been an exhausting trip to come to Vanuatu, this small, Y-shaped chain of 83 islands in the South Pacific. After an 18-hour flight to Sydney and a short, jetlag ridden night it was another 3.5 hour flight North East to get here. I look out through the villa windows but except for a few low lights illuminating what seems to be a path, there is complete darkness everywhere. The soothing sound of waves crashing against the shore, maybe 50 meters away, is the perfect white noise to finally fall into a deep sleep.
It’s the same pleasant sound I wake up to the next morning, enhanced by a fresh breeze from the sea. I take in the view from the villa’s sundeck before heading over to the main house to look for coffee.
When it comes to coffee, my expectations have become quite low over the years. Brazil, one of the largest coffee producing countries doesn’t automatically guarantee good coffee, however, in Guatemala I had excellent coffee (e.g. at Fridas in Antigua). Austria and Italy are hit-and-miss while in Africa and Asia I had some rather “unique” coffees, some of which hardly deserve to be called coffee at all (although the Oriental in Bangkok serves fantastic coffee). In Moscow and Mexico I was pleasantly surprised and in Dresden, Germany, I once had the perfect cup. In the US, the watered down coffee people drink in gallons every day is a separate story.
In the end it’s a combination of the quality of the coffee, the machine used, the type of milk available, and of course: the preparation.
Enter Fred, who has been working at Benjor for over 15 years. We chat for a bit and he explains the available coffees. I go for a Flat White, my favourite in the morning, and which is usually offered rather rarely.
With the coffee Fred served me a few minutes later, he could have easily passed any barista test: prepared with Tanna coffee – Arabica beans from a nearby volcanic island – local milk at perfect temperature and wonderful foam on top it was pure serendipity and a great start to this day. Or to put it in bislama, the local language: Nambawan! Tangkyu tumas!
May I have another one, Fred?
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