I was quite content to think that the coffee I had been drinking at international restaurants (even Starbucks) and at home was good stuff. However, a well-meaning friend of ours recently introduced us to some wonderful coffee that has trumped it all. We liked it so much that we got rid of all of our American and Mexican coffee at home that we previously purchased. No one can say we have never “given” at the office now. I am sure my husband’s buddies at work are glad to have all those new brands to try… and since most of them probably have never tried Italian coffee, they won’t know that the office stuff stinks.
You can guess from the title of this post what kind of coffee we were introduced to: Italian. I’m not sure the bean itself actually is grown in Italy. It is probably from the Mid-East. Yet the difference in Italian coffee (I believe) lies within the cooking methods and brewing methods. It is so sad that many Americans have never really had GOOD coffee before. It is interesting to note that there are oils in Italian coffee after you brew it. I have NEVER seen oil in American coffees (I have been told it is because the plant oils have been burned out by over-cooking of the bean). No matter what the reason is for the taste difference, it has surprised me enough to make me a believer in the Italian brand.
We bought a hand-crafted Bialetti Moka Express coffee maker that you use on the stove-top as well. I think cooking the coffee over the burner rather than percolating it has a lot to do with retaining the flavor of the bean. We are actually making espresso and mixing it with milk and sugar… a “caffè e latte” or “coffee with milk” – what you would simply call a latte here in the States.
My husband is now using a lot less sugar and cream because the coffee we are making is not as acidic and bitter. I am sure he is right (it does taste smooth), but I haven’t given up on my hazelnut creamer just yet. I have been told that it is sacrilege to introduce flavored coffee creamer into pure Italian espresso (but that has not scared me off). I am sure that if I found a good hazelnut syrup, I would not mind just mixing that in with my frothy, warm milk. …Anyone have a favorite hazelnut coffee syrup to recommend?
Italian coffees cost a bit more, but if you are willing to do some research, you can find it at a reasonable price. I found a place online where you can buy LavAzza for only $6.95 plus shipping. I like LavAzza decaf myself. Amazon’s prices are considerably higher at over $20 dollars a can! Grocery stores where we have found it in Texas range between $9-13 dollars, but here in Arkansas, we found a store that carries a version of LavAzza (not decaf) for $6.99 (not bad since we didn’t have to include shipping). Illy is another great coffee brand from Italy that is just a tad bit more expensive than LavAzza. I haven’t seen a decaf version of Illy, but they may have one. I love the little silver tins that Illy coffee comes in.
While you are thinking about trying some Italian coffee out, you can stop in and read more about Italian coffee (and coffee in general) at LifeinItaly.com.