I have talked about my love for coffee before.
I think that traveling in Latin America where most countries drink Nescafe (no es café!) or some sort of coffee sludge hybrid turned me into a coffee snob.
Note: You may think I’m crazy because much of the great coffee we have in the US comes from Latin America countries. Well, they export nearly all of the good stuff, which I learned early in my travels during a coffee plantation tour in Guatemala.
Luckily, Columbus is getting more and more independent coffee roasters and cafés.
When I found out that one of my favorite local companies Columbus Food Adventures does a coffee tour, I had to sign up.
The first place we visited Café Brioso is my favorite coffee shop in Columbus.
I’ve been there hundreds of times, but this guided visit opened my eyes to a whole new coffee culture…
Besides treating myself to a cappuccino every once in a while, I have never drank much espresso or espresso drinks.
I have had straight espresso before (at Starbucks), and I didn’t like it. It was bitter.
Also I’ve never really known the difference between a cappuccino, latte, Americano, macchiato, etc.
What did I learn at Café Brioso?
I love espresso.
And macchiato is my preferred Italian espresso drink.
And about 100 more interesting facts and tips about both Italian culture and espresso.
For about an hour, Jeff and JJ dumped their vast coffee knowledge on our tour group while their talented baristas worked hard to make excellent espresso drinks for our whole group to sample.
If you compare the US and Italy, the US has access to better coffee than anywhere in the world while Italy has mediocre coffee. However, the key difference is that in Italy, they craft blend, craft roast, and craft make their coffee drinks.
We started with an espresso blend.
I have always thought it was strange to drink such a tiny amount. I’m the type of person that likes to sip on coffee all morning. In Italy, a shot of espresso is very common and for good reason.
There is a 20-minute window when you get both the health properties and peak sweetness of coffee. In addition, Italians consume a lot less caffeine than we do in the US.
As JJ says, “It’s not about the Demon Drop.”
After the shot of espresso, I was surprised by our next sampling.
It was milk.
Here in Central Ohio, we have some of the best milk in the country.
Milk is very important for espresso drinks. But it’s not just the quality of the milk. When milk is heated too much, it denatures and becomes dry and porous. It loses its sweetness, and that is why a lot of people add sugar.
First we sampled whole milk (they use Hartzler’s). Then we sampled milk heated too hot and then milk done right.
It was a huge difference comparing them side-by-side.
I could go on and on about what I learned at Café Brioso.
I will leave you with some more photos and great quotes from Jeff and JJ.
“Lattes are the Long Island Iced Tea or Sex on the Beach of espresso drinks.”
This is because lattes are all milk.
In fact, if you order a latte in Italy, you are most likely going to get a cup of milk.
“Every decision is made by taste… Taste dominates.”
“Things should be drinkable if they’re good.”
What you look for in quality coffee is a balanced profile.
You shouldn’t need to add sugar.
“Knowing the language is important.”
I now know what a macchiato is – a bit of steamed milk on top of espresso; no mixing.
“Beer is the only thing that can beat the flavor of coffee.”
So it makes sense that I am a beer snob AND a coffee snob.
Thanks to Café Brioso, I’ve been converted to espresso and macchiato.
If you are a coffee snob or if you just want to learn more about good coffee, take this tour with Columbus Food Adventures.
They only offer this tour every few months, and it always sells out, so be sure to purchase your tickets in advance.
Disclosure: I paid for this tour and was not compensated for writing a review. I really am this geeky about coffee.