Boy do I need coffee today. It’s grey outside, I stayed up far too late and woke up far too early. On top of that I am going to dinner tonight in a room filled with people I don’t know. Eek. I’m going by myself. Double eek. You see I am much more comfortable talking to people through a computer screen. Put me in a room full of strangers and I clam up like a little girl on her first day of school. So nervous and intimidated wanting to crawl under a desk and wait for mommy to come pick her up.
Well, I’ve already talked to my mom on the phone today and she assured me I will survive the dinner. She also said, as a good mother would, “It’s good for you.” So basically, “suck it up you introverted baby.” And I will, and I’ll have a great time eating fantastic food and meeting new people -but the coffee will help perk me up a bit.
Today we will go over the Americano, Latte and Cappuccino.
1. Americano – When I lived in Italy I learned the origins of the Americano. When American soldiers where stationed in Italy they had a hard time drinking the Italians coffee. They thought it too strong. Wimps. So they would ask thebaristas to put hot water in their espresso to water it down. Reluctantly the Italians did as they were asked and the watered down Americano was born. Now I am trying hard not to sound biased – I’m failing miserably – because there comes a time when an Americano is so satisfying. It has the taste of an espresso without the jaw-tightening, teeth-clenching harshness of a single shot.
An Americano is a single shot of espresso with 6-8 ounces of water added. The resulting beverage is stronger than drip cofffee but very watered down. You can however, order a double Americano to up the ratio a bit.
2. Caffe Latte – One of the most popular espresso drinks. In Italy Lattes are mostly prepared at home. Using the Moka – Italian stove-top espresso maker – they make a shot then pour into heated milk. In cafes a Latte is typically 1/3 espresso and 2/3 steamed milk with a cap of foamed milk about 5 mm thick. If you like it real fancy sometimes they will be topped with a dusting of cocoa, cinnamon or nutmeg. I prefer mine with a teaspoon of Turbinado sugar but I’ll be honest – I don’t drink a lot of Lattes – I’m more of a Macchiato girl myself. Or Espresso Con Panna – we’ll get there.
3. Cappuccino – My first encounter with a Cappuccino was in New York when I was in the 7th grade. I fell immediately in love with that city. The lights, the theater, the food and the Cappuccino. After every meal my mother would order one and occasionally I would get to order my very own. The demitasse cup was capped with a white velvet hat ringed with a mahogany brim where the espresso met the foam. Resting next to the cup were two cubes of golden brown unrefined sugar. *Plop* *Plop* I would drop both in cutting the bitterness of the espresso with an massive amount of sugar. Sipping and smiling I would enjoy every taste feeling so fancy and adult-like. My mother still drinks her Cappuccino almost every day.
The Cappuccino gets its name from the Capuchin friars. Their deep brown robes are topped with a white cap covering their head. And although they don’t look exactly like the delightful beverage I love the story and even more I love the old wooden bench that sits under the grape vines in the middle of their garden at the monastary. We were practically neighbors while I lived in Italy.
A good Cappuccino is dependent upon the foam. Let’s even get so technical as to talk about the microfoam shall we? Microfoam is creating by introducing teeny tiny air bubbles into the milk producing a velvety texture with a sweet taste. That microfoam milk is poured over the espresso creating a thick cap about 2 cm deep. The ratio of espresso to frothed milk is equal.
I really don’t know how I got on the subject of coffee – weren’t we talking about apples. Oopsy. We’ll get back there – or we won’t – who knows really. But first there are many more drinks to discuss. The fun ones are coming soon and by fun I mean – chocolate, cream, homemade vanilla syrup, caramel, liquor and lemon peel. Exciting right?! I sure think so.