If there is one thing that being stuck in isolation with COVID has rammed home, it is the glory of coffee. For those two or three avid Off the Record readers out there (hi, Mum and Dad), you will remember last week’s OTR about most of our newsroom being struck down with the virus in the space of two days. On the same night that edition hit the stands, yours truly became the Advertiser’s latest victim. After 24 hours of mild symptoms similar to a flu, everything went away bar the sore throat and general lethargy. But this is not another deep-dive into COVID; rather, this is an homage to the coffee bean. It must be the world’s most effective and enjoyable legal remedy for lethargy. What else can perk you up and get you buzzing like some high-grade Colombian coffee? These seven days of home arrest have allowed me to get reacquainted with a trusty old friend — Nescafe Blend 43. Some might look down their nose at a jar of Nescafe Blend 43, but you don’t have to go too far back in time to reach a point where these potent powders were the mainstay of Australian coffee culture. These days, at least in the suburbs, they have been largely relegated to communal tubs in workplace kitchen areas. Special mention must be made of Australia’s agricultural heartland, where Nescafe Blend 43 and International Roast still reign supreme. Yes, Nescafe Blend 43 has done the job for this past week, but there’s no denying the intoxicating attraction of your favourite order made by a barista. Albany coffee peddler Chris Saurin brings joy to workplaces all over the city on his morning coffee run. He generally arrives at the Advertiser newsroom just after 9am, prompting OTR to jump out from behind his desk in a barely contained display of caffeine dependency. In last Thursday’s Advertiser, there was a letter to the editor from a former dairy farmer disgruntled about the use of the word “milk” to describe almond, oat and soy products. Saurin can attest to the rapid changes in Australian coffee culture, with various “milks” and other condiments steadily making his job more complicated. It was with some bemusement this week that OTR saw a McDonald’s TV advertisement for an “Australiano” coffee. “When a nation loves coffee, they have their own, which is why McCafe have made a cup for a truly coffee-obsessed country,” the narrator says. “Introducing, the Australiano, made with McCafe coffee, chai and native wattleseed. Now that’s coffee fit for an Aussie.” Au contraire. OTR would argue that Australia already has its own signature coffee order — the ubiquitous flat white. And while all of this Nescafe Blend 43 has made for a nice trip down memory lane, OTR can’t wait to order a flat white from Saurin later this week — with an extra shot, please.