Best Laid Plans

It’s a Sunday morning as we get ready to leave Bologna. Shay checks the weather report for Salerno hoping that the weather goddess has taken pity on our plight and granted us some sunny days on the Amalfi coast. Last night they were forecasting thunderstorms for what we were hoping would be the lounging beach part of our trip. Alas, our luck hadn’t changed. We found a taxi for the train station, we arrived in what felt like plenty of time. But as we are getting cappuccino we hear the announcer call our train. I chug my coffee, and abandon my orange juice. We do not want to be late. We get onto the train. Allora there is some confusion with some passengers about their seats or bags. They will not step aside to let us get our seats. But we are on the train. Things are worked out. We take out seats at a table. We are seated next to two other people. One clearly a symphonic conductor. He is listening to music, studying a sheet of music in front of him, and wildly waving his hands under the table as if he is conducting his feet. It’s a four hour train ride to Salerno. We’re heading south past Napoli. When I first started planning this trip I knew that I wanted to go to Southern Italy. I had heard so much about how different Southern Italians were from Northern Italians. I wanted to find out for myself. We did a quick study of the Amalfi it seemed like Salerno wasn’t as big or as busy as Positano or Sorrento. Plus we could go sailing with someone named Fabio “Let’s go there!” I booked us an adorable B & B and Shay booked our sailing. In the colds of February dreaming of sunshine and sailing warmed our hearts and ignited our spirits for the Italian south. After many stops and many seat mate replacements. We see Mount Vesuvius from the train.

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We are here. Southern Italy home of Limoncello, Pizza and beautiful blue waters. Most people disembark at Naples. But we are going to the end of the line. At the start of our journey I had made the suggestion that maybe we should reach out to Fabio to see if we could possibly hop on this evening sailing. Shay had forgotten and so she messages him as we are getting into the B & B. It is sunny but spitting a little bit of rain. Great potential for a rainbow. We get into our B&B and the host hasn’t realized that we would be using the pullout couch. I contact Isabella to find out where the extra sheets and things are. “No need to worry.” She will come herself and set up the bed in “awhile.”

The Salerno Blue tiles that sold me on this B&B.

The Salerno Blue tiles that sold me on this B&B.

We’re hungry and a little tired. We look up some potential lunch places everything seems to be closed or on the brink of closing. We take a gamble and make our way to a pizza place. We ask for a table and there seem to be plenty of people in the restaurant with no sign of closing. Google lied, they aren’t closing. We order pizzas and pray that perhaps we’ve heard back from Fabio. No luck.

Mermaid calling  Fabio  for a lift out to sea.

Mermaid calling Fabio for a lift out to sea.

La Cinque Terre.Pizza

La Cinque Terre.Pizza

After lunch we’re both in need of a nap. This is a habit that I have gotten into while in Europe. Have lunch then take a nap. But, Shay is still resting when I sneak out to walk around a bit and find some gelato. Salerno is busy on this Sunday afternoon. People are out for pre-evening walks. I walk down to be by the water. It is windy and tiny sprinkles are falling from the sky.

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The sea looks calm and I imagine that had our sailing been today it would have been a lovely evening for it. We really booked this stay around that activity. Which was a rookie mistake. I’m walking back up the main drag of shops, and restaurants when I see smoke bombs from the distance. People are marching a few blocks away, and can’t make out what their flags mean. Rather than stick around to find out I head back to the apartment. Europe seems a little volatile at the moment. When Dan and I were in Tuscany we saw some Anti-European Union signs. Italians wanting to leave the EU. We also saw some signs of Tuscani wanting to leave Italy. An idea that seems completely foreign to our American mindset. The difference being that Tuscany was there long before Italian unification in 1863. Still in our age of globalism it’s shocking to see this type of thing. The last time populist and fascism ruled Italy there was a world war that broke out. It’s easy to forget about the importance of European politics with our own political crisis at home.

City Hall in Salerno

City Hall in Salerno

Back at out B&B Shay is taking a bath. This is the only place that I’ve stayed in Europe with an actual bath tub. It’s a luxury here, and we picked up some bath bombs just for this occasion. When Shay emerges from the bath she still hasn’t heard anything from Fabio. We weigh our options for the evening and come up with some ideas for what the day could look like tomorrow if it’s raining all day. Shay has to work tomorrow from 12:00pm-3:00pm We decide to have a chill night because let’s be real Salerno isn’t known for it’s nightlife. We watch Netflix and make a plan to go to the market for salad makings later. As we are getting ready for bed the rain starts. We do not have thunderstorms in the Pacific Northwest very often. Even though the rain is putting a bit of a damper on our plans I’m enjoying the light show.

The next morning we wake up and it’s still raining. Shay had heard back from Fabio finally. He was sorry he hadn’t received our message sooner but he was out on the boat all day. He said not to worry that it may just rain in the morning and then pass us by for the evening.

A Bunch of Bologna Part III: Tower of Terror

Walking the streets at night in a foreign town can be exhilarating and scary. Luckily for us Bologna is not a scary place. As we made out way back to Piazza San Francesco we see all kinds of people spilling into the porticoes and sidewalks. Fire department maximums go ignored. If there isn’t room in the building they will enjoy their glass of wine on the sidewalk leaned against the window. It seems that the city is enjoying an extended Apertivo. Our Piazza is hopping. People are everywhere. Our bike tour guides had said that we were staying in a wonderful spot for food and drink.

We get into our apartment. Just as we are contemplating going back out to enjoy a glass of wine with the local crowd, I open the window and the storm begins. Thunder and lightening, buckets of rain, with umbrellas up people flee the Piazza. In a minute all the people are gone. Headed home to get out of the rain. We had heard that there might be storms the next day. But, after living in the Pacific Northwest for ten years I have forgotten how quick the weather patterns move in other parts of the world. We opt to stay in, and do nothing but discuss dinner for the rest of the evening.

The next day we sleep in and venture out into a drizzly Bologna. The first order of business? Cornetto and Cappuccino. Our guides had told us about Gamberini but it was also an on the list item. We demised it would make a great stop for breakfast, and perhaps a few other treats as well. Gamberini has been a staple in Bologna since 1907. One of the first (some say the first) Pasticceria to open in the city of Bologna. In 2006 the cafe was given the distinction of a historic landmark. Solidifying it’s place on gastronomic list everywhere. Espresso bars are busy places in Italy. It’s not meant to be a serene experience. Gamberini is beautiful on the inside, and very crowded. We make our way to the counter to order. This is where I discover my new favorite breakfast, Cornetto con crema. It’s all the sensation of eating a Bismark style doughnut, but the sweetness is subtle. I feel like a child in the gymnasium of St. Paul’s church and it is “doughnut Sunday.”

Cornetto con crema

Cornetto con crema

Cornetto means “little horn” in Italian. Cornetti differ from the French croissant, not as much butter. But a similar texture because of the rolling folding technique used to make them. Cornetti are a riff on an Austrian pastry Kipferl. They came to popularity in Italy in the same way as coffee through Venice. In 1683 the Republic of Venice did most of it’s commercial trading with Vienna. Kipferl was most likely served to a Venetian merchant on business in Vienna, and when the same merchants entertained the Viennese in Venice they most likely requested these treats be made for their visitors. The history is hard to trace. But, there are many things in Italy that have been inspired by trips to Vienna. Especially where food is concerned. Which it may shock you to know that the cappuccino was not first created in Italy but in Vienna. Kapuziner originated in the coffee houses of Vienna during the 1700s. A nod to the color the coffee turned when milk was added to it, the color of the Capuchin monks robs. After all cappuccino means “small hood” for the monks of the same order. The Italian word cappuccino does not make an appearance in its current form until the 20th century.

a proper monk’s head on a  cappuccino  from  Gamberini

a proper monk’s head on a cappuccino from Gamberini

Shay also gets two small pastries along with her cornetto. I realize my mistake in not getting some little pieces of heaven after she devours hers with delight. Now the line is long again..Allora we must go on. We’ll come back later to get dessert for tonight. It’s still raining as we exit the cafe. But, if it must rain on you in Italy please let it be in Bologna. The porticoes will keep you mostly dry.

We’re unsure what to do with ourselves today. We had planned on biking the city but that obviously had been changed to the day before. Maybe we’d go to the Modern Art Museum? We pop into shops as we make our way to Piazzo Stefano. Perhaps some souvenirs for friends and family back home? Tired of shopping we set ourselves back on track with the sites. Shay had read about climbing the tallest tower in Bologna, the Asinelli I’m not so sure this is an activity for me. I’m not a heights person. Perhaps I’ll hang out in the churches while Shay explores the tower. Just as Shay is looking to buy herself a ticket a woman from South Carolina asks if we need a ticket. She had accidentally purchased 4 too many. “It’s a sign from the Universe! You should come.” Bowing to peer pressure I agree to take on the tower. After waiting in line for ten minutes it’s our turn to go up 97 meters ( 498 steps) to the top. To say that I was nervous would be a gross understatement, but with tunnel vision on I climbed the stairs. It’s deceiving when you start the climb because the stairs are spiral stone. But, as you go higher they quickly turn to worn wooden stairs that are braced with steal. I’m assuming they have kept the wood for historical reasons. It’s obvious they are not from the middle ages. I imagine they are well worn from the shoes of tourist. I do not dare look down, I look dead ahead and keep climbing.

A view from the top.

A view from the top.

Bologna like San Gimignano is a town of Medieval towers. In an era when most villages, towns and cities had walls to fortify them from invading armies, towers were useful lookout points. They also became a way for wealthy families to show case their wealth. Families with the biggest towers had the most wealth. It’s thought that Bologna has 180 towers at one point. Only 22 of the originals have survived. Asinelli tower was built in the 12th century by a family with the same name. It was handed over to the municipality in the 13th century. it’s an impressive site. Would I do it again? No! Especially because I was even more nervous about going down. I went into flight mode and left poor Shay in the dust. She was not wearing the best shoes to climb 498 stairs.

Looking up the tower of Terror!

Looking up the tower of Terror!

Safely on the grounded but covered in rust from the hand railings we make our way over to the Seven Churches of Santo Stefano. The sounds of chamber music fill the air when we walk in the door. It is Saturday, and the choir must be practicing for holy mass the next day. Catholic churches always bring back memories of my childhood at Saint Paul’s this church is no different. The chapel smells of frankincense and holy water. As you walk up the aisle of the main chapel other rooms start to reveal themselves. One appears to be a replica of Jesus tomb, the next room opens into a court yard. You can imagine nuns being cloistered here.

The  Campanelli  (bell tower) of  Santo Stefano

The Campanelli (bell tower) of Santo Stefano

The chapels are beautiful. However, we are in the food mecca of Italy and it’s time for lunch. We had stumbled upon Mercado di Mezzo the previous day by following our noses, and noticing all the market stalls. We headed back in that general direction and found what looked to be like a promising place. It’s the lunch rush and a server comes over to let us know if will be a few minutes before we can be seated. We wait outside under the awning to avoid getting sprinkled on. The sidewalk is filled with people having lunch. The storms haven’t stopped anyone from venturing out. We see a lot of locals, as well as tourists. 051 (zero cinquantuno) is the name of the restaurant we have decided to patron for lunch. It’s a newer place. Started in 2009, now they have four locations in Bologna. We’re starving we need wine and food. We order the cheese plate, and a bottle of Sangiovese while we decide on entrees.

“In wine (Italian) we trust”

“In wine (Italian) we trust”

I opt to get the Lasagna Bolognese and Shay gets a tortellini stuffed with ricotta and spinach covered in a marinara sauce. There is something surreal about eating a dish in the place that the dish was invented. It’s a “pinch me” moment for sure. My lasagna is delicious. But, the vegetable lasagna from last night was better. Though, I think that is comparing apples to oranges. Not the same playing field. I’m glad I tried the bolognese.

Lasagna Bolognese

Lasagna Bolognese

We debate about dessert? Do we have room? Sure why not, and tiramisu is ordered. Luckily neither of us have a dairy or lactose allergy. Literally everything we have ordered in this meal has cheese. Allora la vita e breve.

Pot de tiramisu

Pot de tiramisu

We finish our wine and contemplate the evening. The Eurovision song contest is on, and it is a cultural experience I’m told that I must have. We make plans to pick up treats on our way back to the apartment. We have an early train to catch the next day. We’ll take it easy this evening, make dinner at home and cheer for Italy to win.

A Bunch of Bologna Part II: The Parrot

Life has a way of causing us all to swerve from time to time. Shay and I had both been looking forward to dinner at Al Pappagallo for weeks. A reservation made and outfits chosen. We were both a bit disappointed when the impending storms had forced us to change our bicycle tour to just before our reservation. Rather than arriving in style we would walk into a 100 year old institution sweaty and dressed down. Allora, the wait staff seemed to be un-phased by our grubby appearance. We are fifteen minutes early for our reservation. But, are seated swiftly in a room glowing with the light of two very large and brilliant chandeliers. I head to the ladies room to freshen up, and I’m happy to see a glass of Champagne awaiting my return. A sign from Dionysus that this is going to be a very good meal.

Al Pappagallo means “To the Parrot” in Italian. This restaurant has been an important food mecca in Bologna since 1919. After the first World War Giovanni Zurla a well known Chef among Italian aristocracy opened Al Pappagallo whether it was a tongue and cheek responses to his reputation for “playing the hits” of culinary fashion or if it was an ode to a popular humorist newspaper that closed that same year is a mystery. Either way I think it’s safe to say that Zurla knew what he was doing. In an industry where most businesses fail in the first six months, his has stood for 100 years.

After a careful peruse of the menu, I elect to eat Vegetarian so that we can each try more delightful dishes. We order the vegetarian lasagna with zucchini, and eggplant bolognese. We also order a risotto served in a cream sauce of thirty month aged Parmigiano Reggiano with a balsamic vinegar reduction. Dessert? That will require some pondering.

To begin toasted bread that has been brushed with extra virgin olive oil. Next a morsel of Parmigiano Reggiano with a spot of rich balsamic vinegar.

Thirty Month Aged Parmesan

Thirty Month Aged Parmesan

It is hard to know how to delicately eat the Parmigiano. At first I try cutting it in to smaller pieces, but the cheese has crystallized. I decide not to stand on ceremony, I dip the chunk of cheese into the balsamic vinegar, and take a bit. An explosion of flavor erupts on my taste buds. We import Parmigiano at my work, I have helped crack wheels of the stuff. But, I have never tasted anything quite like this in my life. It’s rich and buttery, but light and delicate. A symphony of flavors in a morsel of cheese. This must be magic.

Plates are cleared. It is now time for the main event. First the lasagna, with vegetable bolognese. In my quest for the perfect lasagna I have found that sometimes the vegetarian varieties are the best. Because the cooks cannot get lazy in regards to flavor. This lasagna is perfect. A little crispy on top is the way that I like it, so I’m assuming that was intentional. You can taste every herb, and every delicious layer of pasta. I think this must be heaven on a plate.

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The piece de resistance is the risotto. The thirty month aged parmesan makes another appearance. This time as the cream sauce for the risotto. A drizzling of a balsamic reduction not only makes the plate look artistic it also sends the risotto into it’s crescendo. it’s light and fluffy. The rice is cooked perfectly so you get the textural effect of eating cheesey air.

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Dessert and coffee are a must. The coffee menu boast all Arabica varietals. For dessert we have decided on Mascarpone with meringue crumble and dark chocolate chunks, and the og classic a chocolate lava cake on a raspberry compote. I order a single origin Ethiopia espresso.

In case we didn’t order enough desserts they bring us a dessert intermezzo.

In case we didn’t order enough desserts they bring us a dessert intermezzo.

Mascarpone with meringue crumble and dark chocolate chunks

Mascarpone with meringue crumble and dark chocolate chunks

Chocolate lava cake with raspberry compote.

Chocolate lava cake with raspberry compote.

My friend Neysa likes to keep the idea of a last meal request in her back pocket. Should the occasion ever arise she knows exactly where she would have her last meal. It’s safe to say that this would be mine.

Walking back to the apartment that night we are blissfully content. There is a car show happening in Piazza Maggoire. The owners of these dashing vehicles were dining with us at Al Pappagallo . After being on the road all day they were not dressed in their best, they looked about like us. Though they will return to their fancy Porches and Ferraris the next day. For one night only we are the same, just people having a really nice meal, in a beautiful restaurant on a perfect night in Bologna.

A Bunch of Bologna.

Italian breakfast is not the same grand affair of it’s American cousin. Italians prefer to eat breakfast on the go. Standing at an espresso bar counter enjoying a cappuccino and a cornetto (croissant) or another pastry option. Coffee is inexpensive, it’s an Italian’s birth right. At the train station in Venice Shay and I arrive early to get a cappuccino. We notice that we can get a croissant, cappuccino and a glass of fresh squeezed juice for five euro. Sounds like the perfect way to start the day. In Italy juice doesn’t come in a carton or jug it is squeezed in front of you via a contraption that could be from Willy Wonka’s factory. Today’s selection is blood orange and grapefruit. We slurp down our Cappuccino, and gobble up our flakey cornetto. When we leave the counter it looks like a croissant explosion. We notice other guest are having the same experience, normale. We make our way to Platform 9 to get on the train to our next stop: Bologna.

The trains are nice in Italy and inexpensive when you book in advance. We luckily had a discount code in March so we took advantage and booked our trains then. Venice to Bologna would take us less than two hours. We watch a movie on Shay’s laptop to make the time go by faster.

Train station breakfast. 

Train station breakfast. 

Once we arrive in Bologna we have business to attend to. The night before Shay had dropped her mobile smart phone. The touch screen unresponsive it had to be fixed. We pop into a place that sells smartphones. Do they know a good repair shop. Si, si they send us off down the street to have the phone fixed in half an hour. Shay explains the problem in her broken Italian. No need to worry, there is a bar we can go to while we wait. Rain is in the forecast for the next few days, and my sneakers did not make it past Florence. I’ve been wearing sandals, but those will not do with rain. We duck into a sporting good store to find some shoes for me. When we emerge it’s time to go get Shay’s phone. When we go to pick it up the technician greets us in English. “You speak English? You let me struggle through my broken Italian?” Shay says. “Well, how else will you learn?” It’s a fair enough point but it seems the rest of Italy does not wish us to learn. Something that irritates me but, is very frustrating to Shay who has spent the last 6 months intensively studying Italian language. We can’t decide if it’s their way of being kind or if they can’t stand how we sound. Happy to be humored we take the phone and decide its time to start thinking about lunch.

We head to the Piazza Maggiore to take in some of the sites of the old historical center. We will be going on a bike tour later of Bologna so we decide not to take too many photos. We walk towards the shops on the other side of the square and find Mercado di Mezzo. It’s on the list! There are lots of food markets in Bologna. But, Mercado di Mezzo is the oldest one.

We order pasta stuffed with spinach and ricotta, a Cannelloni (the child of Manicotti and Lasagna) And two glasses of Sangiovese to wash it all down. We are not disappointed.

Lunch at  Mercado di Mezzo 

Lunch at Mercado di Mezzo 

We follow up lunch with Gelato from Galleria 49. We are making our way back to the train station to collect our luggage, when I get a call from our AirBNB host. “Why didn’t we meet his mother at 2:30 to get the key?” He had said 3:30, we make arrangements to get the key from his mother’s office.

After checking in and relaxing for a bit it’s time to head on our bike tour. We make our way to meet our guides, they are both from Bologna. They know a bit of the history of the city, but tend to ignore the traffic laws. They take us to the Pizza Maggoire and to the old gates of the city. Bologna is a town of towers. Medieval towers are everywhere. Twenty-two still remain from when wealthy families would try to out tower each other.

After almost being squished by a bus and taken out by a car. I’m happy when the bike tour is over. Plus, we have dinner reservations at Al Pappagallo and it’s definitely time to eat.

Bicycle enthusiast and frogger champions. 

Bicycle enthusiast and frogger champions. 

To be continued….

Skipping Venice.

Coffee first came to Italy through the port of Venice. Thanks to the merchants of Venice in the 17th century. The first caffe opened in 1720. Caffe Florian is still a mainstay in Venice, and boast being host to some of histories top writers, artists and intellectuals. Today you can walk on the floors, and sit in the chairs that Gertrude Stein, Hemmingway and Andy Warhol once walked and sat in. If you’re willing to pay six euro for a cappuccino. Wanting to have a bit more of an authentic experience we elected to skip Caffe Florian. Instead we found ourselves cozied up to the bar of Pasticcerria Dachiusso. My friend Shay had arrived the previous evening from Granada, Spain. She is joining me for the remainder of my journey through Italy.

It’s a quiet Thursday morning as we make our way to the pastry shop. The shop is small and better known for it’s pastries than for it’s coffee. But, we are not disappointed in our sfogliatella and cappuccino. Italian breakfast consist of two things. A cappuccino and a pastry. Generally a cornetto (croissant) but we ask the Barista which one he would choose. He hands us both a sfogliatella ( a thin flakey pastry that is filled with an orange zest ricotta) rather than the traditional sweet croissant. The fates are smiling on us as the day heats up and we make our way to our rowing lesson / gondola tour. Ramiera Casteo is a rowing club that is based in the Castello neighborhood of Venice. They started offering these rowing lesson tours as a way to raise funds for a new boat house for their club. The original boat house was destroyed by a tornado a few years ago. As part of the tour we would be rowing into the Arsanale. Still apart of the Italian Navy, we have to have the permission of the Navy to be in the waters. The Arsanale is where the Venetian merchants would build their boats. A floating factory filled with boat building secrets, this is where Henry Ford got the idea for his assembly line. Each building created a different part of the boat. Now it’s mostly a museum, but some of the buildings still remain secret.

Rowing down the canals to the Arsanale.

Rowing down the canals to the Arsanale.

Once inside the Arsanale it’s our turn to row. We’re at the front of the racing gondola so we’ll be setting the pace. Julien our guide and instructor has made this activity look much easier than it actually is. But, he’s a good host and humors us with some pointers on how to improve our rowing.

We had both been warned about how touristy it is in Venice. We were told that we wouldn’t like it. No longer the charming place it used to be. I didn’t want to skip Venice because it’s where coffee came to Italy. So we were pleasantly surprised when Venice exceeded all of our expectations. Yes, there we tourists, including us. But, it seemed if we stayed in the quieter areas of Venice, it was still a very charming place to be. Plus with the beginning of Biennale there was art at every turn.

Hands by Alexander McQueen representing every human emotion as part of the Biennale art celebration.

Hands by Alexander McQueen representing every human emotion as part of the Biennale art celebration.

Leaving the Castello neighborhood we set our sites on finding a small bookshop called Acqua Alta. It’s a skinny little shop that had suffered some flooding a few years ago. Now the water logged books fill up some of the nooks and crannies around the shop.

Water damaged books at Acqua Alta

Water damaged books at Acqua Alta

After attempting to charm the shop cat, we leave with broken hearts in search of some lunch. Shay had done some food research before our trip and we settled on this little hole in the wall place La Bottiglia. We found a shady spot on the sidewalk and tucked in with glasses of Prosecco and veggie panini. The bread was almost like a foccia but almost like a ciabatta.

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After lunch we did what anyone would do, we went to find Gelato. Grom is actually a Gelato chain in Italy that Shay had told me about. When we were walking around Venice we saw a few locations. She said she enjoyed it for the consistency. It’s not the best Gelato in the all of Italy but it doesn’t disappoint. There is a Grom in the train station by our apartment. I get a cone with salted caramel, and Shay has a cone with Pistachio. It’s nap time before we decide what we’re going to with our evening.

Electing to make dinner at home, we make Sweet Potato Gnocchi with a rosemary brown butter sauce, and a fresh spaghetti marinara. We both feel like all we’ve been doing is eating. Perhaps, an after dinner walk is in order. We had thought it might be nice to experience San Marco when all the other tourist were at dinner. We were right.

Gondolas in front of San Marco

Gondolas in front of San Marco

In a way, you could say that by making some smart choices we did skip the Venice that everyone had warned us about. We get to enjoy all the touristy sites, but choose to admire at a distance, like Harry’s Bar. We make our way back to our apartment. The GPS is not that great in Venice, and Google maps keeps leading us into the water. We realize our mistake we have to cross the Rialto bridge to get back to the other side of the island.

Hayley on the Rialto Bridge in Venice 

Hayley on the Rialto Bridge in Venice 

It’s late when we get back to the apartment. Looking at the health app on my phone I see that we have walked 20 km in a day. Exhausted we both fall into bed. We have an early morning train to catch the next day.

Falling to sleep that night feeling content with all of our choices. I’m glad that we didn’t skip Venice. There is a reason so many people still come here, and a reason why this sinking city is still an inspiration to writers, artist, and regular travelers like me.

Caffe Corretto

I’m fortunate to get to travel. I’m even more fortunate that I seem to find old friends and new friends along the way. I was pleasantly surprised a few months ago when one of my co-workers told me that we would be in Italy at the same time. Naturally we had to meet up if we could, and my last night in Milano provided us with that opportunity.

In Italy you enjoy an appertivo before your meal. Amanda and I decided to meet in the Brera neighborhood because it was a good halfway point for both of us. She and her partner have a glass of Chianti. I order a Negroni and I’m shocked when it comes in a highball. Maybe we are at a bit of a touristy place? It seems like everyone is speaking in Italian. Allora, I enjoy what I can, and then we head off to find something for dinner.

We head to a spot that Amanda’s teacher has recommended for the evening. It’s an Italian ristorante they look at us and bring the menus in English. We have a delicious meal of Parmesan, assorted meat cuts, crusty breads gnocchi and lasagna. We are happy. Dessert? We couldn’t possibly. How about a caffe corretto? The server is surprised I know what that is. Would I like it with Sambuca or grappa. I go for the sambuca Amanda orders one too.

Caffe corretto and soft biscotto 

Caffe corretto and soft biscotto 

Caffe corretto is espresso served with alcohol. Generally brandy, grappa (I would describe this as grape moonshine. They take the skins from grapes after making wine and distill them) or Sambuca (an anise liquor.) Some bartenders allow you to add your own alcohol to the espresso. While others just put a half ounce in. This is a drink that was created to help extend the amount of coffee you had. Today we see coffee everywhere, especially in Italy. But, it used to be a very expensive luxury. During the fascist regime in Italy in the 1930s coffee was hard to come by. But the government wanted workers to be productive so they encouraged the drinking of espresso. Caffe Corretto (corrected coffee) was a popular drink in the morning for people living in Northern Italy, and an evening after dinner digestive for people living in Southern Italy. There are other ways to “extend coffee” but this one is my favorite. Today this drink is consumed after a meal. But, mostly older people drink it. This was my first Caffe Corretto but, it won’t be my last. The combination of espresso and anise is a great balance.

The Only Woman in the Room.

I don’t know what it is about Milano, but I always seem to have bad luck here. Even my first trip to this city in 2006 didn’t go so well. If it wasn’t for the fact that it made more economical sense to fly into Malpensa and that CO:Lab was here. I would not be in Milano at all.

However, it isn’t all bad. Taking part in the community events day of the Barista Guild’s CO:Lab offered me the opportunity to meet a hero of mine:Chiara Bergonzi. She is a certified Coffee trainer for the Specialty Coffee Associaion, she works with the Cimbalti Group, she is a Vice World Latte Art Champion, she’s written a book, and has her own training facility at 7gr coffee studio. Most impressively she is the only female coffee roaster in all of Italy. This is no easy feet as you can imagine. If we think that men dominate the professional coffee arena in the U.S. it’s a million times harder to break into this sort of work in Italy as a woman. A lot of this has to do with the fact that most Italian coffee roaster pass their craft down to their sons. If they do not have a son, they pass it down to their nephews etc. But, it’s generally a male heir. Still, it cannot be easy lecturing at Faema headquarters when you are the only woman in the room.

7gr Coffee Studio and Lot Zero( the name of the roaster Chiara roast for) are a rare find in Italy as the shop and the roaster are all owned by a group of women. The four Mauro sisters. They come from a long line of coffee people. Their father and grandfather both worked in coffee. And the family history is all around the shop where you find many different methods for brewing coffee. It was a really great experience meeting all of them. It’s amazing what woman can do when we support and love each other.

You may be wondering how the coffee Chiara Roaster tasted? It was perfect, and the espresso she pulled for us was super juicy.

I’m sorry to say that this is the only photo I have from that day.

I’m sorry to say that this is the only photo I have from that day.

Double Edged Sword

We have been in Florence since Thursday. We’ve been enjoying coffee, Gelato, and delicious pizza. We’ve seen the Uffizi, the Duomo and taken a few walks along the Arno. Everywhere we go it’s obvious that we are tourist. And despite my attempts to speak in Italian the people reply in English. English is everywhere in Florence, and the city feels like it’s being invaded by the world. I was aware of this. I knew it would be a “thing” Florence is a cultured person’s Disneyland. The Florentines have learned to embrace this. I’m struggling with it a little. Which is especially difficult because I am part of the problem.

The days of Medici family have faded. Florence is no longer the economic hub of it’s past. Perhaps, that is why so many of the residents have learned to adapt. I think it’s a love hate relationship for them as much as if it is for me. On the one hand they get to continue living in Florence, and they are able to sustain their lifestyle. On the other hand, by accommodating the foreigners they have allowed the city to have a different mark on it. A mark that is not their own.

Florence has always had it’s share of people living in her walls that are from different cultures. However, this is different. Florence is not alone in her struggle. The internet has greatly changed so many things, from the way we buy stuff to the way we communicate. But it has especially shifted the way that we travel. Historically the idea of the European adventure was reserved for those of great means. By comparison air travel is inexpensive today. Several of the touring companies we saw were for Chinese speaking people. This is a new trend for middle class Chinese. But there were still more Americans in Florence than people of any other nationality.

Who wouldn’t want to come here?

Who wouldn’t want to come here?

Many of the blogs and Instagram pages I followed in preparation for our trip to Florence are all operated and written by Americans that have chosen to make Florence their home. They complain about the tourist, which is sort of weird considering most of them are a. American and b. Making a living by telling people where to go in Florence. One of them hates AirBNB. She says it, “Changes the makeup of the neighborhoods.” While this is true, she also changes the make up of the neighborhood. Yes, she speaks Italian, but it’s obvious when she is talking that she is American. Most Italian’s know without even letting you utter a word that you are not one of them. The Italian family that we rented our AirBNB didn’t seem to mind us being there. They were very welcoming. I imagine the business is doing very well. The building we stayed in seemed to be mostly locals with our floor being reserved for visitors. This seemed like a good balance. Perhaps that is the answer. Making sure there is a balance so that Italian life and culture can continue to flourish in Florence, but people from the outside world can still come to stay. Bringing all their glorious euros with them.

One of the strangest things we saw while in Florence was a coffee company called Arnold Coffee. It’s a chain that boast “All American Coffee Experience” written in giant letters on the side of the door. Naturally I had to check this out. Essentially it’s a Peet’s Coffee or a Starbucks style coffee chain. It was so strange. They had giant to go cups, and iced mochas. Things that you would never find in an Italian espresso bar. Allora is it just to keep the Americans happy or is this for Italians too? Starbucks only opened a Reserve Roaster in Milan not even a year ago. Perhaps, this is just the beginning of a new wave of Italian coffee?

At Co:Lab several of the Italian baristas spoke about how the Italian attitude of wanting coffee to be a cheap, and fast luxury was starting to change. People seem to be willing to pay more. I knew of one “third wave style” coffee shop in Florence. Ditta Artigianale, the owner has three Italian Barista championships under his belt. Naturally we had to go there. I had the Mamma Mia espresso, and Dan had a Chai. Which was the first and only Chai we saw in Italy. I seemed to have lost the photos I took at Ditta Artigianale. You’ll just have to imagine it.

The Good, the Bad and the Marocchino

We have been in Europe since Tuesday. After taking the long redeye from Vancouver to London we then traveled to Amsterdam. We stayed there for the evening, and the following day then made our way to Milano.

Our arrival to Milano was not as glamorous as I would have liked it to be. Our flight was delayed coming out of Amsterdam. When we got to the Milapenese airport at 9:30 at night, it seemed that all the staff had gone home for the evening. We bought our train tickets at a kiosk and found the only train that appeared to be in operation. Thinking it was the Milapenese express. It was not. Which we discovered when it took us an an hour and fifteen minutes to get into Milano as opposed to 30 minutes. Hungry and exhausted after spending the day site seeing in Amsterdam, I called an Uber from my phone. As we walk out of the station, the rain that was a slight drizzle at the airport is now a downpour. We find an awning to stand under waiting for the car to arrive. When it does arrive he can’t seem to find us. After 5 minutes of searching for each other we finally connect. We are soaked from running around in the rain. We finally reach our hotel. The driver is unable to go down the street it’s on because the blockades are up. We get out to walk, and track down our hotel. Which at first seem impossible to find. Luckily we find it. We get checked in and collapse into bed. Eating stroopwafel and potato puffs for dinner that we bought in a grocery store in Amsterdam. It’s midnight by the time we fall asleep. The next morning is the Barista Guild Co:Lab breakfast.

When my alarm goes off at 8:15 I do not want to get out of bed. Dan (my husband) barely moves from the sound. We need to sleep in. I decide to blow off breakfast. I contact the Barista Guild via social media about a shuttle to the espresso machine museum event that is happening today. It’s outside of the city about 30 minutes. They inform me that there is not a shuttle but that everyone is taking taxis. I look up how much it would be to taxi there, seventy euro. Not worth it. I’ll try to make my way there by train when I come back to Milano next week. I fall back to sleep in a haze, forgetting to set an alarm for us. We both wake up at 10:00, Dan in a panic. “The breakfast,” he says. I tell him I decided to skip it. Not to worry we will go to some of the other events.

We make our way to the Lavazza Flagship store. The community events calendar for Co:Lab says that there is something happening there. The baristas that work there do not know about it. Perhaps the manager knows? No. Allora, we have brunch and coffee instead. Milano toast of, ham, eggs and tomato. Dan has a prosciutto grilled sandwich. After skipping dinner we are blissfully full. For coffee Dan has a coldbrew coffee cocktail. I have a Marocchino Italian for Moroccan. I first head about this drink while reading Faith Willenger’s book Eating in Italy. It’s an espresso based drink with steam milk and a dusting of cocoa powder. Which makes the drink a tan color like Moroccan leather. Hence the name.

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The texture is creamy and delicious. The milk has been steamed perfectly. This is why I have come to Italy to discover drinks that we don’t know of in the U.S. Drinks that Italians take for granted as birth rites.

Dan’s Coffeetail No. 10 is inventive and fun. It’s modern and made with coldbrew. As a barista I can appreciate it as a way to engage the guest. But, I know that this shop is catering to people like me. Tourist that love LaVazza coffee and want to experience it in a unique way.

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After I find the event information on my phone. I show it to the Barista. “OH,” he says, “that is not an event, It’s just something on the menu that we offer. It’s very interesting.” We order it.

LaVazza Coffee Design experience.

LaVazza Coffee Design experience.

The Faema flagship is the host for Co:Lab so we head their next when we get there it is closed. There is a cupping happening elsewhere by the time we reach Faema. We head in the direction of the cupping. What happens at the cupping is s story for another time.

We leave before the event ends. We need some lunch at this point it’s around 3:00pm and we need to be making our way back to our hotel. We find a small place that was about to close but he lets us come in and get Pizza Pomodoro. It’s a type of pizza on Foccia bread. We sit in the shade of a park enjoying our pizza and drinks. We need to head back. I think we should just Uber. Dan says we could walk part of the way. We start walking. We get a little lost. We find our way, but then we get a little lost again. It takes us a. Hour to get back to the hotel. We are now running late for our train. We make a mad dash through the city. I can feel the blisters forming on my left foot. We find our hotel, grab our bags, and I call an Uber. I lost count of how many traffic laws the driver broke to get us there on time. I give him a €10.00 tip. We just make the train with three minutes to spare. I feel like I have won a survivalist television program. We are headed to Florence. I couldn’t be happier.

La Vita

In 2009 I was floundering. I was a lost 24 year old not really sure what to do with my life. My dreams of becoming a diplomat no longer suited me. As our country was going through a recession jobs were hard to come by though, I didn’t fully appreciate that until on a whim I decided to move across the country to a place I’d never been to. And, live with a friend I hadn’t seen in two years. She was having a hard time and for some reason I thought that I could help. In reality my presence just brought more stress into her life, and mine. Not being a quitter or having much money I didn’t feel like I could just throw the towel in. Looking back I think I wanted to prove to myself that I could make it on my own in the world.

Make it I have! In 2010 I joined the Washington Reading Corps, where I met some dear friends, and I also taught children how to read. I thought that I had found my calling. I would become a teacher. But, when I continued to volunteer in classrooms after my two year term of service ended, I realized there were a lot of things about being an elementary educator that didn’t suit me. I enjoyed the children immensely but, it was too hard to see so many under served students. I wanted to take all the homeless children home, I would cry when a severely abused child would tell me about their home life. I wanted to be there for the kids but, I knew day after day, year after year, I would fail them in so many ways and I couldn’t live with that.

In 2012 I submitted my resume to our neighborhood corner bistro. I didn’t have any coffee experience, but I was hopeful that my cheery disposition would win over whomever was hiring. Not only did my bubbly personality help me get the job my Midwest roots sealed the deal. Thus began my obsession and quest to learn all that I could about coffee.

Last year I decided that it was time for me to take my first trip to origin. This is what coffee professionals call it when we go to coffee farms. I had never been to a coffee farm. It seemed like that should be the next step in my coffee education. Because it is the path that most professionals take. I decided to take a Spanish class. But, I was unable to find a class that would be at the level I needed it to be. Not a big deal I could just study by myself, or maybe I’d find a private tutor. But, I came up empty on my tutor search. So, I decided to take Italian again instead. It had been twelve years since I had study the Italian language. I was also not having any luck finding a coffee farm in Colombia that was safe to visit. And, when I asked the coffee roasters I know that are from Colombia about going to their home country they didn’t think it was a safe idea for me to visit alone. I could have gone to another coffee origin country. It seemed like things were falling into place and making more sense to go to Italy, to study Italian espresso.

My Italian teacher asked me to do a class presentation on ordering coffee in Italy. I also decided that I wanted to learn some of the history behind different espresso based drinks. in my research for this topic I have yet to find a book written in English about the history of Italian espresso. Sure everyone out there has a blog post about the origin of the Cappuccino. Or the travel magazine article about ordering a Latte in Italy and receiving a glass of milk. I want to learn more than that. So I’m taking my coffee education into my own hands and going to Europe for three weeks. Spending most of that time in Italy to drink, read, and learn about Italian espresso. I hope you’ll follow along on my journey as I update my blog while abroad.

Andiamo!

Andiamo!

The Sheridan Street Shakerato

In the spring I entered a signature drink contest to win a trip to Hawaii with Daylight Mind Coffee Company at the Specialty Coffee Asociation's Global Expo.  For a chance to compete you had to write an essay about "What Kona coffee means to me" 

 

Here is what I wrote: 

 

I've never been to Hawaii. Growing up in the Midwest, Hawaii always seemed like such an exotic distant land, a foreign country really. When my aunt Janet would go visit Maui, or "island hop" she would always bring my grandmother back some Kona coffee. It's because of these trips that I was able to experience any kind of specialty coffee as a child. I still remember the mason jar that my grandma would refrigerate the ground coffee beans in. An idea that I would find cringe worthy today, but grandma thought it made the beans last longer. I remember the smell of the open jar filling the kitchen with a rich nutty chocolate aroma just after one of my grandmother's famous dinner parties. The first time I was allowed to partake in after dinner coffee with the adults I was 8 years old, and it was Thanksgiving. In our family Thanksgiving dinner is served as a late lunch so, there was no fear of the coffee keeping me up past my bedtime. 

It is this moment,  this memory that has brought me to coffee as a profession. In this memory I am home. I am sitting around my grandmother's dining room table with everyone that I love and we are drinking the most delicious drink. There is the greatest comfort in this feeling and I feel that comfort every time I serve a drink, every time I take a sip and every time I smell a coffee that has a strong nutty chocolatey aroma. I want to share that comfort with everyone I meet. 

If it were not for this memory of Hawaiian coffee I may have chosen a different path. And, I can't really imagine my life without specialty coffee. So, thank you Hawaiian coffee producers, and my aunt Janet for bringing a little bit of paradise to my small hometown of Danville, Illinois.

My Grandmother in her kitchen on Sheridan street in Danville, Illinois. 1948 

My Grandmother in her kitchen on Sheridan street in Danville, Illinois. 1948 

I was invited to compete with 14 other people from across the country.  I didn't win but I had a lot of fun shaking up shakeratos for the judges and coffee producers from Hawaii. It was a good reminder of the stories that can be told through coffee and what a deep impact other people have in our lives. 

The Sheridan Street Shakerato

You will need: Cocktail shaker, ice, two shots of kona coffee espresso, Hawaiian coffee blossom honey, macadamia nut milk. 

Fill cocktail shaker with ice, mix in two teaspoons of coffee blossom honey with 1 ounce of macadamia nut milk. Pull you two shots of kona coffee espresso (if you don't have an espresso machine at home you can make some strong coffee in a french press or a Bialleti but only use two ounces) Shake mixture, strain,  serve up in a rock's glass.  

The Disconnect

Our little Northwest city is having a bit of a boom right now, and finally "Third Wave" coffee shops are starting to pop up in our little corner of the world. Third wave coffee roasters tend to have a different roasting style then their 1st and 2nd wave brethren. The coffee tends to be roasted on the lighter side, and single origin coffees dominate the market as opposed to blends. As a coffee enthusiast I am enamored. I've been waiting for this to happen for a few years. As a coffee professional in a 2nd wave city where dark roasted coffees are king I am concerned. Then, I thought that maybe preferences have changed? So I decided to do a very unscientific Facebook survey to see what people are drinking, and spending on coffee these days. 

Preferred Coffee Roast

As you can see by my very unscientific chart most people preferred a dark roasted coffee. In fact no one in my survey said they preferred a light roasted coffee but I do, so I decided to count myself. Of the 18 responses most of the 'Hamsters' preferred a dark roast. The "depends on my mood" people were all from larger cities and a good majority of medium roast lovers are currently living in the Midwest. 

I specifically tried to call out to average consumers, and not people that work or have worked in the specialty coffee industry. 

How much do you spend on coffee in a week?

Spending habits seemed more flexible. Generally most people spent between $10-20 a week. This included drinks out as well as a bag of coffee at home. My Aunts and Uncles seemed to spend the least, and not wanting to spend more than $6.99 per pound.But, they adjust this expectation when they travel to different places.  My friends in larger cities said that would spend $25-30 for a bag of "really good coffee." It would seem in my very unscientific study that people are willing to spend more on coffee if they know the quality is there and if they do not have to make it. 

All this is to say that I think there is a disconnect between what we are producing as an industry and what consumers want to buy. And, while a certain style may work in bigger cities where people are more adventurous does that mean it will work in other places too? I don't know. That's why I'm asking. How much "education" will consumers tolerate, and how do we go about it in a way that doesn't make us all seem like the stereotypical snobby Barista? 

Remedy

The end of the summer came like a whirlwind. And as whirlwinds go one can only hope to be unscathed. Naturally it came at no surprise that once the dust settled I found myself home sick with a terrible stomach flu. I generally do not suffer from the stomach flu. I may get a cold once a year, but as far as other flu bugs go they tend to leave me alone.

Autumn is now upon us and that means any matter of sinful sickness is destined to float our way. I suppose this is just mother nature's way of reminding us to practice self care. Something that I have not been so great about as of late. What with all the various projects there are to do, and endless work I can find for myself. Still self care is important, and like any other regiment it has to be applied daily along with moisturizer. 

 

Barkeeps trusted friend. 

Barkeeps trusted friend. 

Barkeeps Remedy for a Sour Stomach 

Whether you're sick with the flu or have just enjoyed too many dirty martinis here is a classic remedy to cure your sour stomach. 

 

You will need:

A rocks glass 

Angostura Bitters (or any house made bitters)

Club soda (or ginger ale if you like thing sweet)

 

Pour the club soda into the glass add three to four drops of bitters and enjoy. Sure to cure what ails you. 

Home

About a month ago my cousin Chris put our family's historic home on the market. It's just her now, the yard and the big house have become too much for one person to maintain. We all understand. But, it's a sort of bitter sweet feeling. For the first time in over a 100 years a non-family member will live at 604 Sheridan. We will always have the memories, family stories, and history, still in a way if feels like the end of an era.  The end of the greatest generation of the Connor family. 

All this has gotten me thinking about the concept of home. "Where is my home?" "Is it Danville, Illinois or is it Bellingham, Washington?" "Am I at home in my craft?" "Am I at home in this moment or am I at home in my memories?" "What does home mean to me? What does it mean for  other people?" 

For some home is a place. There is no question where their home is. For others, the concept of home is far more complicated. 

 I grew up in the Mid-west and while I have distinct memories of moments feeling like home. I haven't felt at home there in a very long time.  I think most of my "home like" feelings come from smells. The smell of coffee brewing, fresh laundry, flour smells like home because of mom's homemade noodles, lemons smell like home because of the cut lemons  Aunt Lois would put in her sun tea.  But are the feelings associated with these smell really "home" or is it simply nostalgia for my childhood? I don't really know. But, I think it's okay not to know. For now I'm going to enjoy some sun tea, with some lemon slices and allow myself to feel at home.

 

Aunt Lois' Sun Tea 

6 quarts of Water in a glass jar or pitcher 

7 tea bags (she used Lipton but I prefer Twinning's earl grey for some florally goodness)

Place glass jar or pitcher in direct sun. 

Allow tea to steep in water until it looks to be the strength you like (3 hours for me, but if you like weak tea, or stronger tea you may want to adjust your time accordingly) 

Sweet Simple Syrup 

1 cup of sugar

1 cup of water 

bring water to a boil or until sugar is fully dissolved.

allow to cool and add to jar or pitcher of tea. 

 

 

 

 

La Bialetti Vita

One of the most common questions I get while standing behind our commercial espresso machine is,  "How do I get one of these?" When I tell them the price tag they change their tune. Fear not friends there is a way to create espresso at home without a $10,000 machine. It won't be quite the same but for $20-$30 you too can make espresso at home.

Behold the Moka Express 

Behold the Moka Express 

Bialetti has been an Italian classic since 1919. It is a double chamber pressure system divided by a filter. A funnel sits in the bottom chamber. You fill the bottom chamber with water, and the funnel with fine (not too fine) ground coffee. You twist the bottom chamber into the top. Place the moka express onto the stove heat on a medium high setting.  The water in the bottom will start to boil and begin to percolate to the top chamber. When you no longer hear the water splashing around, turn off the heat, open the lid and you will discover black gold. 

Just like magic!

Just like magic!

What? What's that you say? "But Hayley I want to steam milk. I want to make cappuccino, and lattes.." Don't worry boo I got you! 

All you need is an aerolatte- a battery operated wand frother. You can pick one up for around $20 at any home furnishing store. 

If  you want to make yourself a latte or a cappuccino you only need to heat your milk or dairy alternative, then froth the liquid. Brew your coffee in you moka express. Once the coffee is brewed add your espresso to your favorite cup, then add your frothed milk. It may be awhile before you get your portions right for how you like your coffee to milk ratio. Personally I like a smaller amount of volume, I generally use an 8 ounce cup or sometimes even a 6 ounce cup. I pour 1-1.5 ounces of coffee and the rest milk. 

The Java Jive

Nothing goes with a nice cup of Joe like some sweet tunes.  This may be the best way to start any day: coffee and music. Inspired by the Dinner Party Downloads weekly dinner party playlist. I have created a coffee lovers playlist, and since mornings are sometimes unpredictable it's a little all over the map. 

1. The Java Jive by the Ink Spots. A classic coffee loving tune. I believe several groups have remade this one but in my opinion the Ink Spots preformed it best.  It's true, "I love the Java Jive and it loves me." 

2.  Black Coffee by Peggy Lee. This may be her sexiest performance ever! Sometimes a coffee drinkers life can be a little blue. This tune is for the black coffee drinking divas in all of us.

3. Coffee by Sylvan Esso. This song definitely showed up in some Barista routines for United State Barista Championships. It's a fun song and "Hey it's called 'Coffee" .

 

4.The Coffee Song by Old blue eyes Frank Sinatra. In 1946 they had an awful lot of coffee in Brazil. I suppose they are still growing it there but I don't imagine much of it is staying in the country. I don't imagine that was really the case in 1946 either.... 

5. Bolivia by Jorge Drexler I heard this song on the same day as trying an amazing coffee from Bolivia. Now when I hear it I can taste that coffee. Since my Spanish is horrible at best I didn't really understand the lyrics. But, I did know that Jorge Drexler was from Uruguay and not Bolivia and what is a Latin artist doing with a last name like Drexler? Jorge's father is a German Jew. His family moved to Uruguay when his father was 4 years old to flee the Holocaust. The family also lived in Bolivia for an extended period of time. In the 1930s Bolivia was one of the only South American nations that was open to the idea of welcoming Jewish immigrants. Either way Bolivia is a great song, and if you don't know who Jorge Drexler is, you should. 

WELCOME

One of my first memories is waking up at my grandmother's house on a Sunday morning. The smell of Chanel No. 5 and coffee hanging in the air. She was ready to go to mass, and just about to wake me up. If I close my eyes I can see my sunlit room at her house bathed in the early morning light. It was spring, just after Easter, one of her favorite parts of the year. In that moment I was safe. The death and disease that would plague the later years of my childhood and early teens hadn't come, and in that memory is a sweet feeling. A feeling that as you get older you lose, and then something pulls you back to it. A familiar smell, the older lady at the market wearing Chanel No. 5,  the way the sunlight dances on your curtains at 6:45 am, and coffee. Coffee is there comforting you. Reminding you that the safety and sweetness of youth are still hidden in your memories if you just breathe deep and take in the aroma. 

I wanted to start with this story because it illustrates my connection to the warm beverage we call coffee.  I hadn't realized where my true love of coffee came from until I was standing in a cupping(there will be more on what cupping in a later post), smelling and slurping when this memory came over me. Suddenly I was crying. I had to leave the room. That's when I realized what my drive with coffee is. Coffee is waking up at Grandma's house on a Sunday morning. Coffee is comfort. I want to give that comfort to everyone I meet. Everyone deserves to have a little comfort in their life. Even if it's for only five minutes of every day. 

My hope with Reincaffeinated is that you will discover something new within yourself, and help to awaken your senses to  possibilities, memories, and the comfort that is coffee.