According to Wikipedia a portafilter (or group handle) “attaches to the group head of semi-automatic and piston driven espresso machines and holds the ground beans “. This definition makes it sound as if the portafilter is simply an expedient appendage of the larger body of the VERY IMPORTANT espresso machine. The significance of the portafilter should not be minimized. It carries the tamped puck of espresso grounds, forms a seal with the espresso machine’s gasket and directs high pressure hot water through the puck. Important steps to brewing the perfect espresso. The portafilter helps control the brew and makes it all happen. Without a machine with a reliable portafilter your espresso might end up being just another cup of coffee.
No I ‘m not talking about fan names for your favorite Super Bowl players but Sunday’s game does bring at lot of larger than life personalities and more than one bottle of beer to the table and this got me to thinking about some of the beer I’ve had in Italy. Surprised? Don’t be. Italians like beer and up to this point most of it was from Germany. My Milanese cousin Roberto loved German beer as much as he loved a Bonarda from Piedmonte. Just as Sam Adams created a cultural beer revolution in the US, Italian microbrewers are looking to introduce Italian beer drinkers to a new style of beer with as much appeal as a fine Italian wine. Last October I had a chance to see, savor and sample a few at Birrificio Toccalmatto, an Italian microbrewery in Emilia Romagna.
This region of Italy is often referred to as Italy’s Food Valley where the culinary and cultural traditions of food are at the heart of everything they do. So it wasn’t surprising that the artisanal production of beer was done with the same respect for the ingredients you see in the production of their handcrafted pastas and legendary ragu’. On my visit I spent time with Alessio “Allo” Gatti who guided us through Toccalmatto’s menu of beers. We got to go behind closed doors and walk among the production tanks to see and smell the brewing beer. Yes smell – the aromas were incredible. The aroma of hops was intoxicating and I hadn’t even taken a sip of beer yet. With names like Skizoid, Rude Boy, Ambrosia and Fume du Sanglier (made with beech wood smoked malt) you know you’re in for an adventure in taste. My personal favorite is Sibilla, a slightly spicy beer with a fruity aroma due to the strain of yeast used in the making. I’m anxious to try Surfing Hop, a dark red beer with the flavor of balsamico, after all this is Italy!
Birrificio Toccalmatto is part of the Seeing and Savoring Italy Tour Itinerary
According to Jura Capresso, one of world’s leading home espresso coffee makers, the ingredients for an authentic cappuccino cost about 50 cents – $0.244 for coffee, $0.234 milk, $0.10 sugar. Anyone buying a $4 cappuccino at their local coffee shop is spending over $1400.00 a year on their brew. There’s no need to give up your daily indulgence, just the cost of indulging. Solution: brew at home.
For $59.99 you can buy a 4 cup espresso and cappuccino maker by Jura. Literary barista, Eric who believes in the economy of scale has the Jura system and loves it.
A coffee pod junkie? Do you like your coffee one cup at a time. If you are than you’re part of one of the fastest growing markets in the US. According to a report posted on Bloomberg.com, single cup coffee sales are growing 28 times as fast as the overall coffee market with Keurig as a market leader with a 71% share. I Binged singlecupcoffeebrewers and got 4,820,000 results so I know there are a lot of you personal coffee poders out there. Pod flavors range from hypercaffeinated breakfast blends to Hawaiian Hazelnut with plenty of full-bodied Italian roast. I saw a Barista Prima K-cup advertised on one of the sites. Haven’t tried it because I’m not one of the 71% . . . yet.