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.
Can the Japanese make espresso? In a country so committed to tea with a choreographed ceremony that considers every movement and gesture – can there be a place for the art and science of Italian caffe? Surprisingly Japan is considered to be one of the largest consumers of coffee in the world with a passion and love for coffee that is spreading more and more.
エスプレッソ , the Japanese word for espresso, is becoming so popular it’s not uncommon to see coffee shops and espresso bars amid the neon and buzz of Tokyo and the shrines and temples of Kyoto. Although the Japanese coffee culture may be in its embryonic stages, like a chrysalis waiting to become a butterfly the Japanese are embracing a new way of thinking about coffee and steamed milk.
With creative methods of brewing as ceremonial as any tea ritual, the Japanese style of making and drinking coffee is reflected in the Hario syphon coffee system. Not quite the la bella vita crema of espresso but made well enough to transport you to a zen-like state of coffee satisfaction.
Known for making high quality heat-resistant glass, this Japanese company has been manufacturing glassware since 1921. With systems and vessels that look like beakers in a chemistry lab yet combined form visual works of art, Hario’s coffee (and tea) brewing systems produce a rich bodied flavorful drink with precision and beauty.
*watch this video on syphon coffee from Intelligentsia
A few years ago I took a barista training class for espresso enthusiasts at Chicago’s Intelligentsia Coffee Roasting Works on West Fulton. The 3 hour class went over the basics of espresso preparation, milk steaming and latte art (yes I did learn to make the little swiggle on the top of a cappuccino!). It was a great experience. I learned a lot about the art and science of espresso roasting and pulling the perfect shot. I also got a new appreciation for the professional barista and a Black Cat espresso buzz that lasted the rest of the afternoon.
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