Coffee is one of those beverages that people digress about, talk about, debate over, and really, just plain love.  I don’t know if that’s because Starbucks has gotten all of us to think and drink coffee twenty four seven, but a “hot cup of coffee with a good book on a rainy day is bliss”, a lot of people declare.  I know people who roast their own coffee because it’s better tasting.  To them, I say, “I am not worthy.”

We discovered Lavazza, the Italian coffee maker, while vacationing in Italy.  To me, it’s got the right amount of bitterness, roast, taste, and aroma.  Lavazza is tough to get here in the States at a grocery store, where I still feel that it is dominated by crappy instant coffee like Folgers.  Some are getting upscale and stocking Starbucks whole beans, but even that is not Lavazza to me.  Lavazza is more of an experience.  The experience of sitting at our friends’ balcony at their Tuscan flat along the coast in July, where the smell of the sea quietly drifts through the town.  Talking about life and how different our two countries are, not just statistical factoids, but culturally and historically.  The sound of the percolating coffee in the Bialetti stove top espresso maker, signaling it is ready to be consumed.  All of that come roaring back when I use my own stove top coffee maker once or twice a week to enjoy a cup of Lavazza.

The science of percolation, especially with coffee grinds, is one where the Italians and other European countries have perfected more than Americans have.  Here in the States, we want things now, we want things fast, and we want things cheap.  Or probably more accurately, we feel entitled to things now, fast, and cheap.  There in Italy, it’s about the quality and experiencing life more fully.  They still work very hard, as my friend does, so the stereotype of Italians taking afternoon naps is not accurate.  But they get six weeks of vacation a year, which is pretty normal.  And culturally, August is a time when they all go on holiday to the sea or mountains for some rest and recuperation.  They appear more passionate about living a good life, not hoarding everything they can with the least amount of effort like we do here.  And the Italians have done that with their coffee.  Certainly, Lavazza is not the only coffee they have there.  Nor, perhaps, the best.  But the process in which they extract flavor from the coffee beans through percolation is magical.  The solvent, or water, passes through a permeable substance [coffee] and it extracts the flavors from the beans to a rich and full bodied cup of coffee.  You can’t set up a time to have it ready.  It doesn’t turn off by itself.  And if the heat is too strong, you can destroy the water chamber of the espresso maker.  The old adage of “patience is a virtue” is true for Lavazza.  It’s worth the wait for that cup of espresso that will take me back to the Italian coast.  And that’s always a good thing.

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