Saturday, July 08, 2006

Trip to Venice, Italy
obligatory St Mark's Square shot
Well, my first impression of the coffee in Venice was that I as able to find a lot of sorta decent shots of espresso, but they were generally a bit long and hot for my tastes. I had better results when I started ordering 'une ristretto'. I definitely enjoyed the experience of bellying up to the bar to get a shot. I chatted with a very excellent gentleman who pulled me a shot on a gaggia commercial machine and we chatted a bit through the language barrier, and he was able to come up with excellent phrases to describe what he wanted to tell me , like, "the coffee listens to the humidity ". Or when he was saying if the coffee is not extracted under enough pressure it is "blah" with the associated facial and hand gestures, but, if the coffee has the right pressure it is good (to emphasize 'good' he drilled his finger into his cheek as he smiled, creating a dimple.)

Dosers were always full of ground coffee, one quick flick o the handle deposited 7g into the portafilter, the tamper built onto the grinder may have quickly tapped the coffee, then the pf was locked and the button was pushed (typically there was no flush) Most of the machines I saw were auto, heat exchanger machines.

The absolute best espresso experince I had was at Caffe del Doge, Rialto:
Caffe del Doge, Rialto

This was an extremely hardcore shop. Two semi-auto brasilia machines handle the common espresso orders- with their standard "red" blend (100% arabica, incidentally):
Bad Blurry pic of one of the Brasilia Semi-autos, Caffe del Doge, Rialto

The thing that blew me away, however was the fact that they also had 8 mazzer mini EEs set up with different coffees,
(1/2 of the) Single origin eespresso selection, Caffe del Doge, Rialto(1/2 of the) Single origin espresso offerings @ Caffe del Doge, Rialto
single origins, mostly, for use in espresso drinks to be pulled on the 3 group lever machine. Brasilia Lever Machine, Caffe del Doge, Rialto
This was the only situation where I saw true "grind per shot" being used.This was also the first place where I saw a hand tamper being used.
Blurry Pic of hand tamper, Caffe del Doge, RialtoAnother Tamper at Caffe del Doge, Rialto
To be fair, the grinders at CdD containing the standard blend also had a built-in tamper, but it was a piston affair, where the pf is supported on the grinder fork and the tamper can be pressed down.The baristas were very pro and happy to try and understand my questions. I gathered that: 7 grams is still understood as the magic dose for a single, though when they use the mini EE's they add a bit more. They also had no idea when the coffee was roasted, so I assume they don't have strict rules about only using coffee of a certain age.

If you want to find it, here are my best directions: Starting at the Rialto vaporetto stop (or if you have walked from Plaza San Marco), cross the bridge and turn left, so you are walking along the grand canal (the canal is on your left and shops and restaurants are on your right. Watch for the third alley on your right, the Calle dei Cinque (you won't see the name until you turn into the alley and look right). Down that long alley on the right side is the logo.Unassuming exterior, Caffe del Doge, Rialto

Our trip also brought us to Ljubljana, Slovenia. We had some good coffee there, my favorite was "Bar 2000", I wonder if it is roasted locally. I thought I saw a building with the same logo, but it was while we were driving through the night so my memory might be incorrect.
Hearty Breakfast in Ljubljana

While this is not coffee related, we also spent a bit of time in Croatia, where I got to try truffles- Yum!
Gnocchi with Truffles!
Truffle in Istria

The trip was a really excellent experience, but it is nice to return to the comforts of home
No place like home...

You can click on any of the pictures to bring you to my flickr page for larger versions of the pictures.

Thanks for reading!


Steve said...

It sure sounds like you had a great trip. Did you have anything else besides espresso and restretto?

mikep said...

I did stick to straight up espresso, my wife had some coffee with cream, and an occasional macchiato.

Larry said...

Did they say who roasts for them at Caffe del Doge, or do they roast their own?

I'm impressed!

mikep said...

I believe they roast thier own, in Padua.