I figured it’s about time to take a look at my new favourite coffee – probably the most memorable thing I drew from my trip to Rome, as I have been aiming to reproduce this little (yet powerful) treat ever since.
And I do not exaggerate when I say that the trip has had a huge effect on me, taste-wise at least. I could talk about my changed attitude towards pasta dishes (which I had not eaten for nearly a year prior to that holiday), but let’s just focus on coffee. Let me give you a simple example of a quick stopover at a random sandwich shop, running between one meeting and another, with an embarrassingly rumbling stomach; I grabbed a caramel and chocolate shortbread and asked for an Americano, but before the barsita started the coffee I changed my mind: “Double espresso please!”. Frankly (apart from two mochas I have had for the future purposes of this site) I have not drunk a different coffee since returning from Italy, whether it be at work or at home, having rediscovered my espresso machine and it’s fantastic pouring qualities, thanks to Michael at Fun in a Cup Coffee Training. But don’t be fooled, I’m not in love with espresso – if I was, I wouldn’t be adding sugar or milk to it, and I would drop the biscuits that also sweeten the drinking experience, making it a little more bearable.
From portraying enjoyment to embodying torture – so why do I actually drink it? Suddenly, no other option seems as tempting as the espresso – not even mochas! The standard Americano that I used to have at work now looks like a watery potion, whilst lattes are nothing more than milk with a little kick – all make you feel full but not necessarily high on caffeine. Again, I’m sending wrong messages – no, I have not just found a legal drug for myself. What I did find is a cup of coffee that is of the right size and strength to serve as a post-lunch dessert or a snack in its own right. Especially, when it’s in the form of a marocchino.
The name Marocchino derives from its colour – light brown, which in the 1930s was the colour of leather hair bands – or so says Wikipedia. The drink was created in Italy, specifically – Alessandria, a fact that for obvious reasons put a smile on my face. Served in an espresso glass, it consists of cocoa powder, dusted on the bottom of the cup on on the top of the finished drink, shot of espresso and frothed milk.
As I have mentioned already in other posts, although the preparation methods and actual ingredients differed slightly from place to place in Rome (the addition of cinnamon at Taza d’Oro, for example), they all turned out great – less disappointing than the differences between mochas in Edinburgh. For the last couple of weeks I have tried to reproduce the same flavour sensations I discovered in Rome; but whether it be for my rediscovered-yet-not-perfect espresso machine, my coffee beans, the grind size or type of cocoa (and I used a variety from Bournville Cocoa to Spanish instant chocolate), I still end up with a bitter cup of nothing special. Maybe I am missing another secret ingredient that is only known to Italian baristas?
Maybe I will need to make the trip again to find out?