According to Italian coffee icon Illy, shape matters when brewing your espresso and who better than Alessi, an icon of Italian design to interpret the new shape of the traditional moka pot. The Alessi designed, Illy inspired “Pulcina” espresso coffee maker is boastfully described to improve and enhance the “organoleptic properties of coffee” because of its curvaceous shape.
Pulcina’s full-bodied shape enhances the full-bodied and rounded aroma of the coffee because of the internal shape of its special heater. Based on the special shape of the boiler , Illy has identified the ideal shape that the water boiler should take to produce the perfect cup of coffee while automatically stopping the filtering of the coffee at the right moment. This interruption helps to eliminate the eruption phase (called in the world of Italian coffee ‘the Stromboli Effect’ or the seepage of foam from the coffee) the final filtering stage that generates a burnt and bitter aftertaste, ensuring that only the finest qualities of the coffee are preserved.
Michele De Lucchi, Pulcina’s architect of design, even considered the coffee maker’s spout. A pronounced pout with a ‘V’ shape, reminiscent of a baby chick’s beak, hence the name pulcina. The spout is specially designed to perfectly cut the drops into your Illy designed cup.
Cappuccino at the Lodole Country House
Nei dettagli. Into the details. Let’s get into the details of making the perfect cappuccino. First you must begin with good coffee beans correctly roasted and packed. Illy, one of the world’s largest producers of Italian espresso, offers a blend made up of 9 varieties of Arabica beans for your pursuit of the perfect cappuccino.
Then there is the making. Mastering the 4 M’s of Making a Good Espresso results is a concentrate of not more than 30 ml (one oz) of pure sensorial pleasure. You will need about 25ml of espresso for the perfect cappuccino. Next the details of the milk; chilled milk in metal pitcher with the proper pouring performance. Frothing the milk to the proper temperature (150 ºF -160 ºF), inserting the steam wand at the proper angle (diagonal, just below the surface of the milk) and moving it deeper into the milk at just the right moment to create the proper foam can be daunting.
If all goes well you will have made a proper cappuccino which according to Illy’s Università del Caffè should be about 150ml, containing one espresso coffee and equal parts of steamed milk and froth. To me making a proper cappuccino is about the simple fact that Italians care about the particulars, the collective attention needed to accomplish a task at its highest level of enjoyment. Seeking perfection in the art of the everyday, bothered by the devilish details.
Nuova Simonelli, an Italian company with a global presence in 109 countries worldwide, has been chosen to supply professional espresso machines for the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games. Russia is a booming market for Nuova Simonelli. At the beginning of October the company sponsored a barista training course in Moscow and were welcomed by the Russians who have been showing a greater interest in Italian coffee bars and espresso in particular.
Nuova Simonelli is not new to the Olympic spirit. In the winter of 2010 Nuova Simonelli partnered with Illy to bring the culture of coffee to the Vancouver Winter Olympics. This year espresso enthusiasts will have a choice of venues that serve a high voltage shot of espresso brewed with professional Made in Italy machines.
Espresso gets all the press at least in terms of cups. There are so many uniquely designed espresso cups on the market that I have to control myself and not buy everyone I see. Like these that remind novice drinkers that it’s eSpresso not eXpresso. Or these bold colored cups by Italian designer Guzzini. Or the iconic Illy cups and their art collection design series.
Espresso’s second cousin has come into its own with a collection of cappuccino cups that are not just a coffee cup cast-off. The Lino Cappuccino Cup, made in collaboration with baristas at Intelligentsia, one of my favorite coffee roaster/retailers outside of Italy, has been described as a “seamless marriage of form and function” where the contour of the cup’s interior provides the “optimal fluid dynamics ” for a perfect cappuccino. A ratio of 1/3 espresso, 1/3 steamed milk and a perfect pour of 1/3 foamed milk.
Available at several online sites, I’m anxious to try these. They remind me of the classic thick-walled Italian designed d’ANCAP cups (another pick of mine) where the weight, size and shape of the cup are of considered importance in the enjoyment of the drink.
What does it take to make a good espresso? According to various sources in the know it depends on the 4 M’s and it takes just one discordant stroke to disrupt the perfect harmony found in a good cup of espresso.
M # 1 Macchina, the espresso machine. A stable pressure and exact temperature are needed for the best possible extraction.
M # 2 Macinazione, the proper, uniform grinding of the beans. The size of the particle affects the brewing and extraction process. I leaned early on to invest in a good grinder . According to Ernesto Illy, president of Illycaffe’, the espresso grind should feel like fine sand, smooth to the touch. Slightly finer than granulated sugar.
M# 3 Miscela, the proper blend or mix. Classic Italian blends like Illy or Lavazza are crafted to deliver a chocolate or caramel flavored espresso with soft nutty tones. Colored chocolate to a darker chocolate color blends produce an full-bodied espresso with some sweetness that is not overly bitter. Lighter roasts can be suitable for espresso if done properly. Consider what you like. Remember that the quality of water can influence the flavors of the blend so be sure to use fresh filtered water when brewing.
M# 4 Mano, the skilled hand of the barista. Practice and passion, an understanding of the art and science behind the making of espresso are needed because even with the finest beans and the most advanced equipment, the shot depends on the touch and style of the maker.
The foam, the crema, the aroma and taste – all create a sensory experience that define the art, beauty and savor found in a cup of well-made espresso. The art and craft of espresso took on a new meaning in 1992 when Illy first began to think about the idea that art can enter the lives of people through a small object of daily use, in this case a coffee cup. Working with leading contemporary artists, Illy commissioned a series of collector’s cups (now there are more than 70 in the series) and later coffee cans decorated with limited-edition works of art.
The latest Illy can features German born artist, Kiki Smith. Living and working in New York City, Smith is known for combining feminism with magical elements and evocative storytelling . The 250g Illy coffee can she designed is a poetic expression of flowers, butterflies, suns and moons “the natural charms of day and night”. Like all of Illy’s art designed cans, avid collectors find any number of ways to re-purpose (flower vase, pencil holder) these iconic works of art. I especially like the idea of using the latest can design for making a tin can lantern to create a perfect glow on a magical summertime evening.
When we think about the color of coffee we think about warm brown, deep rich chocolate or dark espresso but the birth of the bean begins green.
Green coffee beans arrive at the roasting facility in large burlap bags to begin a life changing process that will alter their taste, color and aroma making them into a world-wide cultural icon. When roasted, the green coffee beans expand and change in color, taste, smell, and density. Sugars begin to caramelize; colors begin to change from light to golden brown, to medium brown, dark chocolate then black. Science and art combine to bring the best characteristics out of each bean. Dark espresso roasts maximize the sweetness and aroma while minimizing the bitterness and acidity. Italian roasters like Lavazza and Illy seem to be able to coax the best of the beans creating a true metamorphosis.