Every single day we celebrate life in Italy with a cappuccino.
You must too. We will tell you all of our favorite bar/cafes in each of your destinations.
Rome is a city of long and proud history of coffee production and consumption. Italians overall now say that the capital has Italy’s best coffee (tied with Naples) because of its ultra fastidious espresso aficionados and its high calcium content water. Generally a bar offers only one house blend. The coffee you drink was made specifically for use in a bar’s espresso machine. And the bar man will be expert at pressing the coffee. Customers are opinionated not about flavors or sizes or kinds of milk — there are no flavored coffees in Italy, no low fat or soy milk, and coffees are always small or very small, consumed in a few sips — but are serious about how it is served : whether hot or tepid, in a glass or a cup (and if in a cup, a large or small cup), how much milk if any is added and if so whether warm or cold and/or possibly on the side; “corrected” (with a shot of grappa perhaps) and countless other variants. Endearingly, my barista Elio remembers what every regular customer wants and often sets to work preparing it as soon as that person wanders in the cafe’ door. Affectionate, trivial banter between barista and regulars is part of the pleasure of the coffee ritual.
When we are in New York we dream of the sort of peerless espresso we enjoy in Italy daily, as does the artichoke lady from our market, the flower man and the mail carrier. Around 9 AM, when we most often take our morning cappuccino, we are usually in the companionable company of all three of these neighbors.
Our neighborhood bar uses Kave, from the historic Filicori Zecchini firm that has imported, blended and roasted coffee since 1919. Filicori Zecchini characterizes Kave like this : “an intense and lingering fragrance, greatly balanced. To the sense of taste, the flavour is intense and with strong, round body. The acid flavour is medium and the astringent is negligible. The aroma gives out milk chocolate and roasted hazelnut nuances. The aftertaste intensely lingers, with a high degree of finesse,recalling taste and softness of milk cream.”
All of this may be true. I savor each drop of my cappuccino, alternating a sip with a munch of a warm cornetto.
One of the delights of being in Italy is that everyone takes such simple, significant joys for granted. And so it should be. Viva l’Italia !