Cama Deruta was an Artisans’ Cooperative in Deurta in Umbria that specialized in the art of majolica, a glazed type of pottery often associated with certain regions of Italy. The name majolica comes from the Spanish island of Majorca in the western Mediterranean, the port from which majolica originally was traded.
In the 1990’s Cama Deruta set the trend for Italian Renaissance majolica designs that were to become chic sought after accessories sold in the best retail stops in the United States. The workshop was officially closed in 2011 but during its existence the artisan cooperative produced some of the finest and most historically accurate majolica designs in all of Italy.
So much so that their tableware was featured in cookbooks such as Starbuck’s “Passion for Coffee” and in the movie “Mrs. Doubtfire” (1993) ( look for the cup in the scene in which Sally Field is drinking her cappuccino). The cup was painted by majolica artist Renato Niccacci in the Siena pattern , a design that emphasizes the colors and details of the marble tiles found in the cathedral in Siena Italy.
I’m a single cup holdout. A pod adverse skeptic who hasn’t found the right combination of taste and technology to take the plunge into a single cup machine. Oh I want it. I would love to have the convenience of a true brewed espresso at my beck and call. But I haven’t found the complete package. I’ve been tempted by the design of more than one single cup machine and the flavor profile of another. Yet I have committment issues.
Last week Starbucks announced the first at-home premium single cup machine that meets its commitment to taste and quality. It’s call the Verismo® system and promises “quality espresso beverages, from lattes to americanos” consistently and conveniently brewed one cup at a time. Promising a high-pressure machine for maximum extraction with espresso quality is a lot to deliver pod solamente but its sleek automotive design makes me want to take it out for a drive.
Are you part of the new American café’ society? Author, journalist and gourmand Lucius Beebe coined the term “café society,” in the New York Herald Tribune in the 1920’s referring to a social group that frequents fashionable spots, such as nightclubs and cafés. Although originally used to refer to the glitterati of the 20’s and 30’s, coffee quickly became a social lubricant for the café society of the hipsters and beatniks of the 50’s and folk-singers of the 60’s.
Today a new American café’ society can be found at Starbucks, Peets and countless urban coffee shops and espresso bars across the country where wi-fied connected eyes rise now and again from behind laptops, tablets and smart phones. Let’s hope that technology doesn’t replace social interaction and that the world’s most popular beverage continues to fuel the emotion, imagination and creativity historically associated with café culture to remain an important social gathering point where people come to talk, write, read, entertain one another or pass the time with a good cup of coffee.
Why is coffee so popular? At last count more than 1400 million cups of coffee are sold every day worldwide. Problems are solved, deals are made, friends and lovers meet and road warriors find their Wi-Fi spot over coffee. Some say that coffee became so popular because of its mild stimulating effect but there has to be more to it than a momentary rush of caffeine for coffee to be the second most traded commodity in the world (oil is first).
I think that coffee has become the global drink du jour because of its complexity. The varieties of beans and the ways of blending and roasting them have given coffee almost limitless possibilities to please the palate. The aromas, strengths and combinations that arise from the coffee bean create an expansive menu of flavors that has made Starbucks famous. Breve, lungo, cappuccino, corretto, latte, mocha, macchiato, Americano; you can choose your own personal brew depending on how you feel at any particular time of the day and season of the year. In the hands of a skilled barista your cup of coffee becomes a canvas for latte art, in the hands of a chef de cuisine, it becomes an affogato or an ingredient in a delicious tiramisu.
Irish, Greek, Turkish, Thai, Italian, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Indian – coffee drinkers all around world define their culture by the way they make and drink a cup of coffee. For whatever reason, we as a people have a preference for coffee. What’s in your cup today?