When I saw the Daily Prompt today, “Upturned Noses”, I knew I had to write one. I mean they even put coffee on the list of possible things to be snobby about. And I am.
It started back in college. Northwestern attracted students from places far more cosmopolitan than my little town and by the time we got near the end, the early days of the gourmet coffee craze were underway. Once my friends introduced me to the wonders of coffee by the pound from specialty shops, I started down the coffee snob trail and … well, really, I’ve only gotten worse.
Sucking down as many cups of cafe creme as I could during a college summer at the Sorbonne helped it along. Then I attended law school in Seattle in the days when Starbucks was just a local place with a couple of shops and really good coffee. Years later I moved to San Francisco and was instantly introduced to Peets–also just a local chain at the time, albeit one with many shops in the Bay Area.
When I moved to Marin I also found my way to Spinelli’s, located in a nearby Corte Madera shopping center. About the time I left California for Kentucky, Peet’s started going global and Spinelli sold his stores to Tully’s. The Peet’s that I ordered by mail started tasting like something burnt had been scraped off a grill into it and I began casting around for something better (I still get pretty good coffee if I go to one of their shops…).
About that time I also made my first trip to Italy. Our wonderful guide, Roberto, taught me about Italian coffee. That it’s always a blend using coffee from several regions (in the world). He brought a handful of beans out from the kitchen of a ristorante in Chianti and showed me that each of the three types had a different roast. Hence the fabulous taste of Italian coffee. And I wandered farther down the coffee snobbery trail. Now I generally drink blends only and I study the info on each blend pretty carefully before I decide.
I got a Gaggia espresso maker and for some years used that. Somewhere along the way I tried a stove top espresso maker and I’ve been hooked on that ever since. I even take one on trips so that I can make my own stuff if there’s a stove top available.
A few years later California friends told me that Sal Bonavita, former owner of Peet’s, and Al Spinelli, former owner of Spinelli’s, had combined to form a new coffee outfit. I ordered some and fell in love! Bonavita left and the name changed to La Coppa. I mail ordered often and on every visit I’d come home with four or five pounds in my luggage.
I also loved hanging out at their shop in Mill Valley. They’ve closed the shop and for a while I thought Spinelli must have retired but just found out you can still order on line. Espresso Speciale and Mill Valley Blend are both incredible blends to savor–and never over-roasted; none of that burned taste here.
I know coffee has its down side so I’m careful not to drink too much. I try to hold it to one cup a day — unless I’m in France or Italy, where I fling myself into a cafe seat several times a day…– and I want it to be the best cup I can get.