Monday, February 1, 2016
I’m very excited to relaunch The Coffee Experiment; the composition of the new website better reflects my writing and the original idea that sparked this project. You will notice a new menu to the left, which are the new focuses of The Coffee Experiment: Conversations, Travel, Design, and Coffee 101.
I was always more interested in the social aspect of coffee — the way that it universally brings people together — than the coffee itself. CONVERSATIONS will focus on the people I have coffee with. The TRAVEL section will be a place I can write about travel, both coffee related and otherwise. I spend much of my time in coffee shops, writing, meeting people, or simply being. I am very inspired by the design of coffee spaces, the way they can be artful, while also serving as the gathering spaces for communities. Thus, the DESIGN section will focus on the architecture of coffee spaces, in every form. I still love to drink good coffee; COFFEE 101 will remain a place to write about coffee drinks and brewing methods that I enjoy.
Monday, March 18, 2013
At Abuela’s Kitchen, a newly opened Cuban restaurant on Lincoln Road — Miami’s crowded and eclectic outdoor shopping mall — the women at the counter greet sólo en español. Since I don’t know much Spanish, I stick to what I do know: coffee. “Cortadito, please,” I ordered on a breezy Friday morning. “Non!” the waitress countered, shaking her head. “Too small. You want a cafe con leche — very strong and good.” It was early, and Cubans, like Italians, drink their heavy milk drinks in the early hours of the day.
Cubans are one of the many cultures that make up the multifaceted community of Miami, and the influence on the culture is unmistakable. Walking around Miami Beach often feels like wandering through foreign streets, from Brazil to Paris, Haiti to Cuba; as one Colombian immigrant told me, “Everyone in Miami is from somewhere else.” While I’m sure Miami natives exist, the city’s strong Latin presence is evident in Miami’s coffee scene. In nearly every cafe, one will see a café cubano on the menu.
A café cubano is a shot of espresso, often made with Bustelo beans, pulled with sugar, or sometimes, poured over sugar. The sugar caramelizes and turns into a kind of syrup, creating the notable sweetness Cuban coffee is adored for. Bustelo beans are darkly roasted, so the sugar is never overpowering because the undercurrent of the coffee is so strong.
A café con leche is one part café cubano, two parts steamed milk. Often, condensed milk is used, creating an extra sweet treat.
Finally, a cortadito is the perfect blend of the two. It is a Cuban version of the macchiato: a potent shot of Bustelo, laced with sugar and a drop of steamed milk.
Cuban coffee is engrained in Miami culture. Gazing at the crowd huddled around the the outdoor window at Abuela’s, it’s full of locals, tourists, Latinos, Haitians, and Europeans alike: a snapshot of Miami, all drinking a café cubano.
Thursday, August 11, 2011
Vacuum coffee pot, syphon, siphon — whatever you want to call it, it looks like it came out of your tenth grade chemistry lab.
But in many circles, it’s the chic way to brew coffee, and it’s no different in Portugal. At the beautiful new culture club in the Palacio Belmonte — one of the oldest palaces in Lisbon, now a gorgeously appointed hotel — one can enjoy a siphoned cup while listening to the likes of brilliant Israeli concert pianist, Elisha Abas.
Maria, owner of the Palacio along with her husband Frederic, fixed me a cup. A mid 19th century design, popularized in the 1960s, the concept is quite simple, and the result is clean and aromatic. The siphon is made up of two glass carafes connected by a glass stem; the coffee grounds are placed in the top carafe, the water in the bottom. A flame is lit at the bottom, causing the water to heat and create a pressure vacuum, that forces the water up into the coffee grounds. Once all the water has reached the grounds, the coffee is stirred for one minute. Then, the flame is removed, and the brewed liquid passes down through the filter, back into the bottom carafe.
Et voila, the coffee is ready to serve, straight out of the glass carafe. The coffee has little sediment and clean flavor. And at the culture club, it’s an homage to the vintage idea that good aperitifs and coffee are best served with Chopin floating through the air (compliments of Elisha), which makes it the most fabulous place to have coffee in Lisboa.
Saturday, July 2, 2011
The New York weather has kicked off it’s hot, thick, smelly, sticky summer party. It makes you kind of lazy, in need of a shot of caffeine — but nothing too hot. It’s definitely iced coffee weather.
Granita di caffé is an Italian specialty, a variant of iced coffee unlike any you’ve ever had. Like a snow cone for adults, it’s Italian shaved ice laced with espresso and a bit of sugar, sandwiched between two heaping scoops of unsweetened panna.
Tazza d’Oro is known to have some of the best granita di caffé in all of Rome, but I was told of a place that was even better. Described as small and “ugly” (though to my eyes, it was still quaint as ever) — it was a low frill kind of place. But many Italians agreed, it had the best granita di caffé. So I crossed the bridge to Trastevere, a youthful bohemian district of Rome full of art galleries, boutiques, and cafes.
I found Bar San Calisto on a little street off of Piazza di Santa Maria (and a gorgeous church worth going into). A tiny bar full of locals. The granita di caffé was rich and strong, the espresso soaking each bite, and the homemade panna providing the perfect balance. Simple, yet divine, and perfect for a summer day.
If you can’t make it to Rome, the Washington Post has a recipe here; it’s easy to prepare at home.
Also in the neighborhood: Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Antica in Palazzo Corsini, housing a lovely Caravaggio — amongst other works — and Villa Farnesina, with gorgeous frescoes completed by Raphael. It’s also fun to wander, popping into the art galleries and boutiques featuring local designers.
Tuesday, May 10, 2011
In essence, the cortado is the Spanish lovechild of a macchiato and a cappuccino. It’s really all about the ratio; the milk is used to cut the acidity of the espresso, but not overpower. The espresso comes through to balance the milk, which is steamed more like a latte, with little-to-no foam. The milk is steamed at a lesser temperature as well, and it is served in a 5 to 7 oz. glass rather than ceramic.
On your next trip to the cafe, order a cortado (La Colombe makes an amazing one).