Among the researched and proven remedies to expedite the restoration of the body's circadian rhythms are Melatonin, light therapy, fasting and Viagra. I just couldn't see myself lying back on a chaise longue, sipping a drug-infused beach drink in direct sunlight, while going hungry and boasting a fantastic …you know what. Instead I busied myself reinventing the perfect cup of coffee. I'd wake up full of zest at 2:00 AM with a buzz in my head or sleepwalk in the late afternoon like a zombie and trudge toward the kitchen where I'd lock myself. I must've concocted a few dozens cups of muddy crap before I finally made my Nobel Prize worthy consummate Caffè Americano.
I am a creature of habit. During my extensive traveling years in Europe I always ordered an espresso and nothing but. I had my first one in Venice in the year 2000 and since then I have all but abandoned Turkish coffee and other freakish manifestations of an otherwise godly beverage. For 12 years I lived with the conviction that I'm drinking the best cup of coffee in the world, a Lavazza Espresso, made with my own hands using a low-end machine. I was right of course. Nobody makes a better espresso than I do. But until then, I hadn't tried an Americano yet.
This past summer, however, and every time I am in the United States, a decent cup of espresso is simply unattainable. Dr. Frazier Crane might've known precisely which trendy Seattle café served the ultimate espresso but I'm a southern boy who's never been to Seattle. Even if I were to live in Point Barrow, Alaska for the rest of my life, I would always be a naturalized Cajun from the bayous of southwestern Louisiana. Speaking of which, Louisiana boasts the best damn American coffee in the continent. Community Coffee of New Orleans is second to none, and yes that includes Canada, so Canucks stop shaking your incredulous heads. You could only imagine my surprise when I found out in 2010 that Community Coffee is not sold nationwide in grocery stores. For the 8 years I lived in Lafayette, Louisiana (1978-1985) and drank Community Coffee every morning I had no idea that it was a regional brand. Fortunately, you can order it online anywhere in the world today and if you're into American coffee I strongly recommend it.
But wait! I totally went off-track and forgot to tell you about my first encounter with a Caffè Americano. It was almost as good as sex, perhaps better. You may learn about my epic driving adventure, crossing America coast to coast, in my next installment on this blog, assuming of course you don't kill yourself or go insane after reading this one.
I picked a McDonald whenever possible for my scheduled and emergency piss stops along the way. Although I never ate there, they offered free Wi-Fi and surprisingly excellent American coffee. But on my final day, driving in torrential rains through Pennsylvania, it eventually became unsafe to go on. Visibility was close to zero as I took an exit into the unknown and got off the highway. I drove into a little town with a main street, a few decrepit buildings and nothing else. There might've been a church there too since I thought I saw a spire behind the foggy glass of the general store/coffee house I was forced to use for shelter. The petite (short really), blue eyed, extremely sexy waitress came over to my table and asked me if I like a cup of coffee. She had a brilliant, beautiful smile. Her lips were... Oh forget it! I took my eyes briefly off of her face, regretting the wasted moment and pretended to read the laminated menu left on the table. Under coffee, the word Americano stuck out and in order not to lose another second not looking at my waitress' gorgeous face, I mumbled: An Americano please.
”Cream and sugar?”
“What? Honey!” I almost replied, before realizing that she was asking me a question.
“Yes please. A little bit of both.”
She was gone but I was content, knowing that she'll be back. I also got a chance to stare unnoticed at her ass. Oh my! I never imagined a small package packing so much punch. A spankee if I've ever seen one. You know, as in..., what in the hell am I talking about? I told you how torturous this jet lag has been, didn't I? I'm still suffering and under the influence.
She brought my coffee and went back behind the counter where I could see her. I think it was the slowest cup of coffee I ever drank in my life. And the best! I felt terrible when the meteorological conditions were safe enough to drive again. Dad, my travel companion, wanted to get back on the road and he literally had to pry me off of my seat. I can only relive the experience, I thought, if and when I make my own perfect Americano.
Which I finally did!
Ingredients and Glassware:
Cream or milk, and sugar as per your preference (optional)
The best beans or ground coffee you can get your hands on
Your favorite cookie
An espresso machine
A porcelain creamer (to warm the cream or milk in the microwave)
A porcelain cruet (To bring the water to a boil in the microwave)
A fancy China cup (capacity 2 ½ cups of espresso) or your favorite one of comparable size.
- Turn on the espresso machine ahead of time to warm the basket, the holder and the heating plate sufficiently. Make sure the China cup is warm enough before pouring the coffee into it. I found out that most home espresso machines lack the ability to produce very hot water so using a microwave becomes a necessity.
- Warm the cream or milk (1 or 2 teaspoons) in the creamer (microwave for 10 seconds). Take out.
- Boil exactly one full small espresso cup of water in the cruet (microwave for 1 minute)
- Fill the single basket generously as if to make one strong cup of espresso but instead of stopping halfway as in a normal espresso, make it long (lungo) approximately 20 seconds. Pour directly in the warm fancy China cup. You begin this process when the time left on the microwave screen shows 25 seconds before you take the boiling water out. Perfect timing is everything.
- Pour in the boiling water slowly over the edge of the fancy China cup that already contains the espresso (equal amounts espresso and boiled water). Make sure to pour the water as near to the edge as possible in order not to disturb the crema. Pour in the warm cream or milk the same way, then add sugar and stir gently.
This is exactly how to make the perfect cup of Americano. Any deviation from my instructions will produce a mucky coffee soup. No pain, no gain, and this is most certainly true in any beverage or food preparation. Trust me on this one and thank me later.
I woke up this morning and went through the ritual. She came out of the fog and asked me what I'd like to order. I didn't waste no time looking at no menu. As long as she's standing there in front of me and before she disappeared I looked straight into her blue eyes.
“A Caffè Americano please. Cream and sugar.”
“Would that be all?”
“Not really, but I'll decide on my next move when you come back.”
She walked away then, with a smile on her face and a sway of that exquisite little butt of hers.
Good morning everyone!