Thursday, July 29, 2010
A couple of months ago, my good friend from the US that I share an apartment with received a moka from our friends who were eager to introduce us to the world--nay, completely different universe--of Italian coffee. I have already been converted, enjoying the thicker, richer coffe than the watery bitter American version. My friend on the other hand was a recent convert of non-American coffee, enjoying the blends in Vienna so much so that he couldn't wait to get his hands on the reputedly better local variety. He even got the small cups! (I thought we could just buy the cheaper plastic version from the local toy store.)
I have never been to an Italian kitchen without one of these moka, but it is also not uncommon for Italians to opt for the fancier barista machines. And honestly, the taste is better. Coffee from a moka is good (it really depends on the brand of coffee more than anything), but it always has a hint of bitterness, as if it spent a couple of minutes on the stove too long. But the barista machines always produce a robust coffee with little of the bitterness, the taste being a bit more consistent and rich. But any which way, it is better than American coffee, which uses a lot less coffee grinds and a lot more water, which creates a runny, watery, almost opaque fluid that is more bitter than flavorful.
Although Illy is a big, internationally renowned brand--almost like the Italian Nescafe--it admittedly produces really good if not the best coffee, something most Italians I know testify to. It is produced an hour and a half from where I live, in Trieste. As far as I know, Illy doesn't sell different kinds of coffee in Italy--dark roasted, medium blend, extra strong, etc--they just have the silver canister with their recognizable illy logo. I know wineries and malgas are the thing to do in Italy, but one of these days I would like to tour their factory and be able to graduate from their Barista University. Just like getting wasted at some of the best wineries in the world, I know there's a cult-like following out there that religiously travel to such temples of caffeine and brag about getting a killer buzz from the makers of some of the best coffees in the world. I'll thump my chest, rub it in their jealous faces, and maybe work off the caffeine by running through the streets of Trieste twenty times.
Roman convicts driving rickshaws as part of rehab
Don't really know though if I buy the authorities' reassurance that these guys "pose no threat to anyone." "Carefully chosen" suggests vague criteria randomly selected by a robotic switch controlled by some Italian clerk in the vast and forbidding maze of Italian bureaucracy straight out of Terry Gilliam's Brazil.
Photo from "Old Picture of the Day" (http://old-photos.blogspot.com/2007/09/chain-gang.html)