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Coffee, the Italian way

I’m Italian and I have a shameful secret to confess.. I’m not a coffee addict!

Honestly, the amount of times I had to “excuse” myself for not being a “real Italian espresso lover” is unbelievable but I guess people have a point in expecting that an Italian cannot live without coffee.

totoI’ve been knowing how to use a caffettiera since I can remember. In my family everyone used to drink coffee, especially espresso: strong, short and hot ! It wasn’t until I started my first job that I openly confessed that I wasn’t keen in drinking espresso and that I’d have rather had an americano (heresy!) I still remember the annoyed face of the barista who reclutantly prepared me what Italians call “brodo” ie soup.

I sometimes think I was destined to live in Britain ūüėČ

lavazza_cappuccino_cups_1_1Anyway don’t get me wrong, I used to and still do enjoy my cappuccino in the morning but if I don’t have it I am pretty sure I can still survive the day.

One thing that really bothers me though is when I walk past Starbucks and cannot get my mind around people drinking those big cups of “coffee”. The Starbucks “Italian style coffee” has nothing to do with the coffee that you find in Italy. Remember a real Italian coffee lover would NEVER drink coffee from Starbucks.

img_3635So, you would ask yourself, what is so special in the way Italians drink their coffee?

First of all remember that in Italy you would never ask for a “latte” unless you want a glass of warm milk. BUT you can have one of the following:

  • latte macchiato
  • caff√® macchiato
  • cappuccino
  • caff√® (espresso)
  • caff√® latte
  • caff√® lungo
  • caff√® corretto

When you go to the bar you must never ask for an “espresso” but simply “un caff√®”. If you ask for a caff√® by default you get an espresso: very short, very strong and very hot!

Italians tend to drink their caff√® on the go. They go to the bar, they call out for a coffee even if the barista is not looking at you (promise it’s not rude!) they just say “un caff√® per favore”, (a coffee please). They then drink it and only AFTER they pay for it and go. All is very quick! An espresso is the daily caffeine boost that Italian people need before heading to the office.

cup-of-coffee

If you are after an american style coffee then you can ask for a caff√® americano and you will get an espresso with hot water added. Something similar but not quite the same,¬† is a “caff√®¬† lungo” ie “a long coffee” and this is made only by the espresso machine which will make the espresso more watery.

When asking for cappuccino then it’s a different story. Cappuccino is ONLY drunk in the morning, for breakfast, never after lunch or in the afternoon, “troppo pensante” ie “too difficult to digest”. Usually when you go to the bar you order a “cappuccino e briosche” (cappuccino and croissant) while if you make yourself a cappuccino at home for breakfast, it will always be served with “biscotti” (biscuits).

There are some variation when ordering coffee with milk. If you want an espresso with just a dash of milk (cold or hot) then you ask for a caffè macchiato. If you would like a hot milk with a dash of coffee then you would ask for a latte macchiato Рremember, mornings only ;).

Last but not least, especially for me as I come from the land of grappa, we have the caff√® corretto which is basically an espresso “corrected” with a slug of brandy or grappa, perfect to drink after lunch as it promotes digestion (or at least this is the excuse).

lavazza coffee grounds And if you want to impress your friend and prepare them a real Italian caffè  then follow the instructions below.

  • First of all you need to get a good quality Italian coffee for caffettiera (moka express). You can either get coffee beans to grind or go for coffee grounds. My family in Italy always uses “Lavazza qualita d’oro”. In Italy Lavazza is one of the main brands of coffee along with Illy and Segafredo.
  • Get yourself a caffettiera (you can buy it online pretty cheap or you can go for the iconic Bialetti – slightly more expensive)img_3644
  • Unscrew the top, remove the filter and fill the base with water to just below the level of the safety valve.
  • Insert the funnel.
  • Fill the funnel with espresso ground coffee, do not press coffee down.
  • Screw the top to the base.
  • Place the caffettiera on a low to medium heat (make sure the flame does not extend up the side of the pot.
  • It usually takes only 3/5 minutes for the coffe to “venire su'”. Basically when you hear the coffee bubbling then it’s ready and you have to take it off the heat otherwise you risk to have a coffee which tastes bitter/burnt.
  • Your coffee is now ready to serve.

img_3661In Britain is quite common to ask for a coffee flavoured with some kind of syrup like caramel or vanilla. You will find pretty hard to find this in Italy. I obviously have it as I told you I’m not your usual Italian coffee lover ūüėČ

img_3664Here we go, this is your mini guide to Italian coffee so when you will find yourself ordering a coffee in Italy you will look like a pro!

Enjoying a good Espresso coffee

Coffee is so much part of our Italian culture and in our family drinking a good short Espresso is a daily tradition. My husband is proud of his ability to make a lovely cremina (which is a foam made by vigorously whisking a tiny bit of coffee and sugar), he really believes it’s a form of art!
For him a daily espresso coffee is a must, especially in the morning! So when we heard the news about Dolce Gusto launching a new espresso flavour we could not wait to try it!
espresso ardenza
The new¬†Dolce Gusto Ristretto Ardenza is definitely a typical Italian coffee. It’s a so called “ristretto” coffee which is shorter than a normal espresso yet full-bodied with a velvety crema layer.¬† In Italy we call it ‚Äėcorto‚Äô (short), because it is a very short espresso shot made with less water passing through the coffee. It’s the Italian people choice when it comes to order a coffee as most Italians drink their coffee quickly at the bar before heading to their offices.

IMG_9488

Receiving a Dolce Gusto hamper is always a pleasant surprise. In the beautiful wrapped box, these lovely glass espresso cups and saucers were an extra treat! The glass cups are the perfect size for an espresso or a macchiato (an espresso with a bit of foam yum!) and I love these ones in particular as  you can see the different layers that Dolce Gusto machine naturally creates.

IMG_9502

Being coffee lovers, I cannot help but think that coffee has other uses a part from giving you a big boost in the morning so I browsed a bit online and found many recipes you can make that have a good short espresso, like Ristretto Ardenza, as ingredient.

ardenza dolce gusto coffee

My mother in law arrived on Saturday and I thought I’d treat her with a lovely three layers Coffee panna cotta (I’m such a wonderful daughter in law! Haha).

coffee panna cotta

This is the very easy recipe, it just takes a little of time as you have to wait for every layer of panna cotta to settle before moving to the next one.

2 cups of espresso Dolce Gusto Ardenza

10 gelatine leaves

600ml of double cream

1 vanilla bean (I used a tbsp of vanilla extract)

9 tbsp of sugar

shaved dark chocolate for garnishing

Soak 4 gelatine leaves in cold water. Put in a saucepan 300 ml of double cream with 3 tablespoons sugar and one shot of espresso. As soon as it begins to boil remove the pan from the heat, add the squeezed gelatine and stir until dissolved. Let the mixture stand for 5 minutes , then divide it into 4 glasses  and fill them up to about half of their height. Cover the glasses with plastic wrap and place them in refrigerator for about hour.

Put another 2 sheets of gelatine to soften in a cold espresso coffee for 5 minutes, then add a small espresso cup of water, 3 tablespoons sugar and heat it on low heat until the gelatine is dissolved. Remove from heat, let the mixture cool  and then pour 2 tablespoons in each glass on top of the previous panna cotta layer .

dolce gusto pannacotta

Soften other 4 sheets of gelatin in cold water . Heat other 300 ml of double cream with 3 tablespoons sugar and a vanilla bean ( I didn’t have it so I used a tbsp of vanilla extract). Bring to a boil , add the squeezed gelatin and let it dissolve . Remove from heat, allow the mixture¬†to cool , divide it into glasses , cover again with plastic wrap and place in refrigerator for 2 hours.

ardenza panna cotta

Using a vegetable peeler, create some dark chocolate shavings and sprinkle some over the panna cotta glasses.

Buono!

 

 

Dolce Gusto coffee machine… you will love it

When I think of Dolce Gusto the first thing that comes to my mind is not coffee.. it’s George Clooney!! Ok, alright I’m joking but I did ask if the Dolce Gusto machine would have been delivered by him..

Aaanyway let’s talk about coffee. Who isn’t crazy, addicted and needs it more than air!??! Not me.. I have to be honest I should be ashamed of being Italian and not loving passionately a good short espresso.. I just don’t! It makes me tachycardia, every time I drink one I almost feel like my heart is exploding and I’m about to have a heart attack! I do love a good cappuccino though, in the morning like most Italians do, but I seriously cannot be bothered to fill the Caffettiera (the traditional coffee machine that every Italian owns) with water then top it up with ground coffee, then wait for the coffee to “venire su” (to come up – basically the water goes all the way up to the half top of the pot) so I just give up and make an instant coffee, kettle on and it is me happy… until now…

The idea of owning a coffee machine is my husband’s dream; he’d love a huge super professional steam coffee machine. I could not care less, my dream machine would be one which is easy to use, fast and gives you a drink that tastes good…

I FOUND IT…

I’ve always been a bit reluctant about coffee machines that work with pods so when I was asked to try the Mini Me Dolce Gusto I was more excited about the beautiful design of the machine itself thinking it would look amazing in my kitchen than the idea to make coffee. Let’s not forget the colourful pods that come with it!¬† I was happy to give it a go and my husband was curious to put it to the test and compare it to his beloved Caffettiera.

I am the kind of person who doesn’t like reading instructions so the easier the better and this machine really amazed me:¬†making coffee could not be simpler! You just need to fill the tank of water at the back,¬†press the button on the top, wait for the light to become green and add the chosen pod (for latte or cappuccino you would need to use 2 pods, one for the coffee and one for the milk). On the pod you can see the suggestion for the amount of water needed,¬† easily set it on the machine and your coffee it’s ready in literally 30 seconds!

Yes, it is that easy and the result is fantastic! Not only you get a tasty coffee at a perfect temperature (cannot stand when you go to a coffee shop and the coffee is so hot that you need to wait half an hour before drinking it) but the foam is fluffy and delicious and it smells amazing! The choice of flavours and combination is huge,  you literally become addicted and would like to try them all.

I wish I had taken a picture of my husband tasting his first espresso made with Dolce Gusto. The little foam that usually a professional coffee machine produces was there, great taste was there, he was seriously impressed. Knowing that I was never too keen on coffee, he asked me if he could take it to his office and I obviously said no. It didn’t take me long to fall in love with this stylish looking coffee machine! To be honest the Dolce Gusto is actually pretty affordable so I might buy a second one just for his office.¬† The retail price is just RRP ¬£99 and it comes with a free starter pack. The pods are ¬£3.68 a pack but often you can find a deal¬† 3 for ¬£10 at Asda.

And if you don’t like coffee, you can always try a delicious hot chocolate ” Chococino” which again comes with a caramel twist or just plain chocolate, or you can try one of the teas available. Worth to mention that Dolce Gusto not only makes hot drinks but it gives you the option with a simple switch of a button to make a cold one, cool eh?

Love it, love it, love it, I could not recommend this machine enough especially because at the beginning I was pretty diffident about it and  then it totally won me over.

If I had to rate this coffee machine I would go for 9/10 and I take that point off only because I think it’s such a pity to have to waste the colourful coffee pods which obviously can only be used once.

If you are a coffee lover or not, if you drink lots of coffee or just the odd one, trust me,  The Dolce Gusto Mini Me IS the machine you want.