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Saturday, September 12, 2009

Serious Cappuccino

This is a "good" cappuccino from the IperCoop supermarket caffe bar, Gravellona.

We've been comparing cappuccinos... Giuseppe tells me that there is average cappuccino, there is good cappuccino, and then there is serious cappuccino, and I absolutely need to know the difference. This isn't about knowing how to make a perfect cappuccino, it's only about drinking them.

Just average cappuccino, hmm, try to stay away from it.

This is a "below average" looking cappuccino. There's just no... excitement to it.
Go at least for a good one. A good cappuccino has the following qualities: It should be the perfect temperature the moment it is put in front of you. Not so hot that you need to wait to drink it, and not so cool that it tastes like it's been sitting on the counter for some time. The foam should be foamy, but not too much or too little. That is, it shouldn't disappear like soda bubbles in just moments. It also shouldn't be like drinking coffee through whipped cream. It should be a perfect balance of steamed milk and caffe blending together as you drink, leaving only a bit of foam clinging to the side of the cup after you take that last sip. You can sprinkle chocolate on top of a good cappuccino, or you may be asked if you want some and it will be sprinkled in a design.

This is another "good" cappuccino. It's from Caffe Torino in Piazza Cadorna, Stresa.

Serious cappuccino takes all of the above good qualities and turns it into an art form. In serious cappuccino, after the steamed milk is poured, the barista moves the espresso through the milk with a stirrer to make those designs that make us go awwwwww...

Awww... This is a "serious" cappuccino, from Gigi Bar, Stresa.

Take a look at some really serious cappuccini in this video:





The Italian Espresso National Institute now safeguards and promotes Italian Espresso through a product certification process. Companies which comply with the manufacturing processes set forth by the organization have the right to display the Certified Italian Espresso mark, guaranteeing consumers of an espresso which meets the high standards:

On sight, a Certified Espresso Italiano has a hazel-brown to dark - brown foam – characterised by tawny reflexes – with a very fine texture (absence of large mesh and larger or smaller bubbles). The nose reveals an intense scent with notes of flowers, fruits, toasted bread and chocolate. All of these sensations are felt also after swallowing the coffee in the long lasting aroma that remains for several seconds, sometimes even for minutes. Its taste is round, substantial and velvet-like. Sour and bitter tastes are well balanced and neither one prevails over the other. There is no, or a barely perceptible, astringent taste.

I'd like to thank my colleague, who put in some serious time helping me research serious cappuccini.

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