As I have reflected on what brought on my espresso obsession, and some of the great experiences I have had drinking espresso at coffee shops, I remember 6-7 magical experiences and oddly most of them were not about great coffee, but good coffee in a special setting or experience. I am going to blog about a couple of these and see if writing down about the experience is enough to rekindle the memory and be worthy of writing up more than one (even if only because of the joy it brings me in remembering). Here is the first of these…
The first place is the place in Italy where I hung out and fell in love with espresso instead of brewed coffee. I went there multiple times a day for six months and if nothing else it was the people who worked there that made it special. The place was Bar Da Gino in Venice, not far from the Academia bridge. One waiter spoke English fluently and most had a working use of the language, but I was learning Italian, so I never spoke English with them – when I am in Italy I try never to use English with Italians because I want to improve my Italian. The Italians are kind enough to humor me and the result was that at one point I could communicate fluidly in it although not fluently (but alas not using it for 7 years has led to a serious loss in my skills).
Anyway, they served Segrafredo off of a huge Cimbali espresso machine and did the usual Italian thing of grinding their own beans and whacking them on the tamper on the front of the machine to tamp. The shots seemed excellent at the time, but I don’t know what I would think of it now after I have learned much more about espresso and Segrafredo is generally reasonable, but not exceptional coffee to work with (although I think they may have premium blends that we don’t see here in the US). I would probably like it, but not love it is my guess.
The point wasn’t just the coffee though. It was the people, the Panini, the atmosphere, the warmth of Italian culture, etc. that made Bar Da Gino so special – not to mention the setting - Venice. The coffee was classic Italian espresso – it probably would not be worthy of the WBC, but it was better than anything I can get locally here and cheaper, too!
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