I don't know if it makes me an odd case, but I have very fond memories of special places and treats I had there, actually from my own childhood days, when my Dad used to take me to a cafe-canteen. Not that I had a coffee in those days, it would have been a child-friendly drink and a slice of cake or a pastry. I felt so grown-up and enjoyed our outings a lot.
Later, in the era before the kids, my husband and I used to drop in the local cafe for a quick cup of coffee, or even a buy a takeaway cup to take to the office.
And my boys have been to so many cafes with us since their early days. Our favourite local haunts are cafe Nero and a local chain called Huffkins, both excellent in their own way.
While my husband and I love our cup of latte or cappuccino, the boys munch on palmini biscuits and croissants.
|Eddie in Cafe Nero|
And of course, every time we stay in Italy, we have a daily "worship" at the local cafes. The Italians love their coffee. If you have time to lounge, you sit at the table and read a newspaper, if you are in a hurry, have an espresso and a quick pastry just by the pastry counter (and it costs less as well this way). There is a huge cultural tradition of going to the cafes. The cafes in Italy deserve a special mention, many of them are little kingdoms of gastronomic delights. You cannot possibly resist the temptation. The displays of pastries, both sweet and savoury, are a real feast for eyes.
|One of the local cafes in Ferrara, Italy|
The coffee comes served as you like. My preferred choice is either latte or cappuccino. I cannot drink a pure espresso, like many Italians do. For me it's almost lethal, or like a rocket fuel, if I drink one, I feel like launching into the open space or running a marathon. I love my coffee milky and foamy.
Of course, all these pleasures come at a cost, and going out for a family of four is getting pricier and pricier. We have a decent coffee machine at home, and my husband can make a wicked cup of coffee. I often joke that if he loses his job, he could always apply to become a barista, as he's very good at it.
For those who want to enjoy a decent cup of coffee without spending a fortune, there is an opportunity to have a real Italian experience at home. Have you heard of Caffe Cagliari? This is an authentic Italian coffee company, with an over 100 years of experience. I always find it fascinating when the family business has been preserved by many generations. Nowadays it is Alessandra Cagliari, the great great grand daughter of the founder who handles the packaging and marketing side of the family business.
If you are an owner of a Nespresso machine, Caffe Cagliari make coffee capsules which are Nespresso compatible capsules. They promise that every single cup of their coffee is "exquisite masterpiece, the result of more than 100 years of knowledge and tradition".
The qualitative and sensory standards of Espresso have been certified by the Italian Espresso National Institute (INEI) which protects and promotes Italian Espresso.
There are five varieties of Caffe Cagliari coffee: Espresso Ristretto, Elite, Crem Espresso, Grand Espresso and Deca, priced at £2.99 for 10 capsules, that's about 30p for a cup of coffee. They vary in strength (knowing me, I'd go for the lowest strength).
|Image credit: Caffe Cagliari|
This makes me think of my husband's late Nonna Elsa, who loved her Espresso. I remember visiting her granny flat at her daughter's house. She would come out and shout at the top of the stairs "Pronto!", inviting us over for a cup of coffee. She served this strong black lava in dainty little cups. I would look at her, and be amazed how the little old lady could drink such a strong brew.
That's the power of coffee, it brings back lots of memories of places and people you know and cherish.
Disclosure: This is a sponsored post. All opinions are mine.