Friday, 28 March 2014

I'll have a Cappuccino please!

There are a few moments that I look forward to every day.  One of them is sitting down with something to read and enjoying a cup of coffee in the early morning. The beautiful aroma as I’m about to take my first sip of coffee brings a smile to my face and it’s my form of zen, where I just  tune the world out and enjoy my hot cup of coffee in peace.

Two of my favorite coffee beans are Blue Mountain Coffee from Jamaica and Kona Coffee from Hawaii. The flavors are so crisp and clean to me, and don’t give me that acidic after taste that I find with a lot of other coffees.  Blue Mountain Coffee is known for being one of the most in-demand and expensive coffees in the world and is grown in the Blue Mountain region of Jamaica. Kona coffee is also one of the most expensive coffees in the world and comes from the Kona Districts of Big Island, Hawaii. Both have a remarkable flavor from the ideal growing conditions of the beans.  But I was really looking forward to Italian coffee and adding it to ‘my favorite coffee’ list.

Italian coffee is wonderful. It tastes so smooth and it seems slightly stronger and rich in flavor.  Every time I see pictures like the one below, it puts a smile on my face and makes me wanting more. The espresso, the warm milk, the foam, the taste, the cute spoons and cup, the aroma…. and I could go on.

While enjoying my morning cappuccinos in Italy , this is what I observed and learned:

-         When you go into a coffee bar, you normally drink coffee standing up at the bar. The bar is usually a nice granite countertop of some sort, and then you take a few sips of your beverage and you are finished and ready to go. 
-         You pay for your beverage first, get the receipt, show it to the barista and then you wait for your coffee drink be prepared.
-         Cappuccinos are drunk in the morning and generally not in the afternoon. To be honest, I’m not sure why that it is but that’s what I was told from someone local.
-         The size of the beverages are much smaller than in North America . You would never see a grande or vente size drink at a coffee bar.
-         The coffee machines are unreal. What I mean is that the machines look so sophisticated, so fancy, so beautiful, so shiny, so powerful, and so big.

Look at this beautiful espresso machine! I wonder if it will fit on my kitchen counter....

There are so many different coffee beverages in Italy that you can order. The ones that I tried while in Italy are:
o       Caffe – a shot of espresso
o       Caffe Ristretto – a more concentrated form of the regular caffe
o       Cappuccino – espresso with hot milk and foam (my drink of choice)
o       Caffe Macchiato – an espresso with just a splash of milk or ‘stained’ with milk
o       Caffe Americano – espresso with hot water added
o       Caffe Latte – hot milk mixed with coffee and served in a glass
o       Caffe Con Panna – espresso with sweet whipped cream

What makes coffee in Italy so good is that they seem to have the right formula for the perfect cup of coffee. The perfect roast, the grind of the beans, right temperature of the milk steam, right ratio and quantity of coffee grounds, right type of bean, etc. I was also told that the milk they use in Italy also contributes to the delicious taste. Similar to how the water in New York is one of the factors that makes a New York pizza taste so good and distinct.

One of my favorite places where I enjoyed my morning cappuccino was at Sant Eustachio Il Caffe which is just steps away from the Pantheon. I had read about this place beforehand and I noticed that it was packed with people when I walked in. The coffee here is incredible and I highly recommend this place!  The way they make their crema, the frothy cream which tops their espresso, is unique and a well kept secret that they will not reveal.  

Of course a perfect cup of coffee should be accompanied by non other than a canoli! I mean, this is Italy afterall…..

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