Illegal Coffee – Gastro-Obscura has an interesting article on coffee’s long history in the Middle East.
In Istanbul, Drinking Coffee in Public Was Once Punishable by Death
Rulers throughout Europe and the Middle East once tried to ban the black brew.
By MARK HAY
“. . . Odd though it may sound, Murad IV was neither the first nor last person to crack down on coffee drinking; he was just arguably the most brutal and successful in his efforts. Between the early 16th and late 18th centuries, a host of religious influencers and secular leaders, many but hardly all in the Ottoman Empire, took a crack at suppressing the black brew. . . “
Some cultures – Irish, Indian, Chinese, etc. – drink tea and others prefer coffee. Italians like coffee and they’re fussy about how its made. Caffés and patisseries have large high-pressure espresso makers that are too big and expensive for home use and the traditionalists among us don’t use pods, percolators, Mr. Coffees, or Chemexes for our espresso.
For a long time, at least 200 years, a typical home espresso maker has been the Napolitano Maganette. This is the one where you add the coffee and water in the pot, put it on the stove upside down, and when the water boils, flip it over. That’s the type of pot my mother used when I was growing up.
We also had a Vesuvianna. It’s made of one piece of cast aluminum in a mid-century modern design. It makes great espresso and is beautiful to look at. The one I have is electric. They aren’t made any more, but you can still find them on EBay.
The espresso pot we use most of the time is our Moka. It was invented in Italy just after World War II and is the most ubiquitous coffee pot in the world. It’s easy to use and makes perfect espresso.
1957 ad for a Moka
Translation – “Where’s Dad?” “He’s in the kitchen with the Moka Express.”
Nice cups are important too.
Medaglia D’Oro is the espresso brand I grew up with and still use today.
The relationship between caffé and the city of Naples can only be called love. La tazzulella di caffé is the way Neapolitans welcome the day, recharge throughout it and show friends they enjoy their company. It is the occasion to socialize, share opinions and discuss about the latest news and gossip.
La relazione tra il caffè e la città di Napoli non può che essere d’amore. La tazzulella di caffé è il modo in cui i napoletani accolgono il nuovo giorno, si ricaricano e mostrano agli amici che amano la loro compagnia. E’ l’occasione per socializzare, condividere opinioni e parlare delle ultime notizie e fare pettegolezzi.
Vietnamese Iced Coffeeis nothing like the standard American iced coffee you might be used to. It’s really something special and requires a little patience. Whenever I’m in a Vietnamese restaurant I order it as soon as I arrive and let it brew while I’m eating and drink it just before I ask for the check.
2 glasses – 1 small to brew coffee and 1 tall to mix coffee with ice
As the water is boiling add 2 tablespoons of coffee to the coffee maker and 2 tablespoons of sweetened condensed milk to the small glass.
With the coffee maker on top of the glass, wet the grounds with about a tablespoon of the hot water and put on the top of the press and push down tightly. Fill with hot water and put the cover on. The coffee will slowly drip into the glass onto the condensed milk. This should take a few minutes. You can adjust the press as needed.
When the coffee is finished dripping, fill a tall glass with ice. Thoroughly mix the coffee with the condensed milk and then pour it over the ice in the tall glass.
Most of you probably never heard of it but Manhattan Special is a espresso flavored soda. It’s not sold all over and is typically only available in Italian delis and grocery stores although lately it’s been turning up in some high end food stores. They’ve been in business for a long time (1896) and I remember drinking it when I was a kid in Manhattan’s Little Italy. It tastes like the best iced coffee you’ve ever had – only made from espresso and with a fizz. When we were kids we’d sometimes have it with a splash of milk, the way you would drink iced coffee.
A while back I found a vintage Manhattan Special bottle, empty of course. It didn’t hold much, just 6 ounces and it has their old Brooklyn telephone number on it with an “Evergreen” exchange. What I liked most about the old bottles is that instead of paper, the label is painted on. Spaces are left blank so that the man and woman are outlined in black (the color of the soda) and when the bottle was empty those spaces became transparent.
For Cuban coffee the only ingredients you’ll need are espresso and sugar. For equipment, a moka pot is preferred but any other espresso maker will do. This recipe is for two cups.
Start by putting a two-cup espresso pot on the stove.
While the coffee is brewing start making the espuma –
Add two teaspoons of sugar to a small serving pot for each cup plus one more. More sugar makes more crema. As soon as it’s brewed, add two teaspoons of coffee to the sugar and stir vigorously for a few minutes until you have a creamy café au lait colored syrup. Pour the coffee over it and stir until the espuma rises to the top.
When I was growing up the standard after dinner question was, “Who wants brown or black?” Brown being American coffee, usually Maxwell House and black was espresso. Our brand was Medaglia D’Oro and I still use it. We started drinking coffee very young. I remember my little China cup filled with half coffee and half milk and some sugar. Kids were allowed milk in espresso. Adults used Anisette.
Not long ago we offered espresso to some guests and one said, “Oh, you have an espresso machine.” I told him we didn’t have an espresso machine but we didn’t need one because we had a Napoletana Macchinetta. Macchinetta actually means ‘little machine.’
Yes, it’s supposed to be upside down.
A Napolitana Macchinetta
Fill the top with water, put the coffee grounds in the screw in filter and place the pot on the stove upside down. When you hear it boil, turn it right side up. A vacuum is created that forces the hot water through the grounds making a rich brew.
It’s not the only type of espresso maker. I have some others.
Copper machinetta, red mocha and a Vesuviana
If I ever get a full-sized espresso machine, I’d like one like this –