I first discovered real coffee on an InterRail trip when I was a student. This was a good few years ago, long before the high street coffee shop revolution. It started me on a gradual quest to make the perfect espresso at home. It has now reached the point where we have 2 Rocket Espresso Milano machines at home – one for us and one for our guests.
Because my formative coffee experiences were in Italy, I have always favoured traditional Italian style espresso. The best coffee in Italy definitely comes from the South and so that’s the style we like. The beans have to have been roasted in Sicily, Calabria or (better still) in Naples. In the South the perfect bar has a permanent collection of old men who seem to sit there all day. It should be busy virtually all the time and the barista makes an uninterrupted stream of coffees. When the coffee is ready there is always another customer just arrived at the counter to drink it. To see this level of perfection you should visit the famous Tazza D’Oro in Rome or the bar (I forget the name) outside the train station in Naples.
Of course, if you travel around enough you may not always have a Southern Italian bar nearby. In the Pacific Northwest of the USA (Oregon & Washington) they have devised the drive-thru espresso bar. They seem to be everywhere in rural areas. They are literally a hut with water supply, electricity and a coffee machine. You drive (or in our case, walk!) up to the window, order, and your coffee arrives. The quality is generally very good. Someone could make a killing setting up a network of them in the Highlands.
As we had hoped, there is definitely an appetite for good coffee amongst travellers in these parts. Most of our guests favour either Americano or cappuccino. German and Dutch bikers in particular seem to be able to put away one Americano after another. For now, not many order espresso at breakfast but maybe we will have a party of Italians to visit soon. In the meantime, you order them and I’ll make them.