On the road to Roquetas, we had driven a half hour after our lunch of tapas and were now ready for coffee, so we pulled off the highway at the sign promising food and drink. The restaurant that we came to was filled--at least the parking lot was overflowing with fifty or more cars. It was, of course, now Spanish lunch time, and we figured that it would take a half hour or more to get served, and then no one would be very happy to give us just a cup of coffee rather than the typical full-course mediodía meal. So we left the restaurant parking lot and drove down the road to the lone gas station, because most gas stations have a coffee bar.
We were out of luck, we saw after walking in: no cafetería, no bar, not even a coffee machine was in view. When we asked the clerk about coffee, however, he apologized for no cafetería and handed us an aluminum can instead. I thought he was going to tell us to pour the contents into a plastic or Styrofoam cup and microwave it, but there wasn't any microwave. He then explained that if we pushed a pop-top on this can and shook it, we would get hot coffee.
|Cafe con leche in a self-heating can|
1. Remove the bottom lid and press the plastic tab firmly.
2. Wait until the liquid (inside) disappears and steam becomes visible.
3. Turn, shake, and open the can.
We took the can cautiously to the car and followed directions. When we opened it, it was so hot that you could burn your mouth. It would have been nice to have even a Styrofoam a cup to pour it into, but we didn't. The café con leche tasted good, however,. The can stayed hot for almost an hour. I said it was magic, or at least ingenious. Johannes said he knew how it worked and started talking about childhood chemistry experiments. I wondered what chemicals I was drinking. Still , just the thing for camping trips, we said, or just to have on hand in the car for emergencies.
Of course the print on the can was too small for me to read anything, but now I am home and I have read the can and found the website. I am no longer worried about the chemicals and I even know that I can dispose of the can conscientiously in the envases recycle bin. Though drinking coffee "on the street" is counter to the Spanish culture, the Fast Drinks 2GO company says, apparently there is a need, because sales have been good. 2GO gives credit for the idea to an American company, WP Beverage Partners, which it says distributed it through Wolfgang Puck back in 2004. I never saw it there, but I'll check next time I find a Wolfgang Puck at the airport, because this is just the thing to take on board for one of those flights without frills, which they all seem to be these days. You can also purchase in advance from an online store, but I wonder about getting it through security.