When one great London coffee shop dared another great London coffee shop to park its espresso cart on its premises everyone’s first thought was smackdown. But the docking of Flat Cap, as Notes Music Coffee mobile units are known, at Prufrock Coffee on London’s Leather Lane was the main event of a “friendly” pop-up I organised to celebrate the release of Katie Parla’s Rome For Foodies Dining App and welcome back an old and much maligned favourite from Italy: the traditional cappuccino.
In the age of triple ristrettos and double-shot flat whites the once beloved cappuccino has hit bottom, dismissed by coffee geeks as all froth and no substance. With the failure of Italy, espresso’s spiritual home, to catch onto the third wave of higher quality coffee it has sometimes seemed as if all of the trad capp’s once beloved bubbles have been popped.
Reviving the traditional cappuccino with quality espresso from the UK’s best roasters seemed like a stretch, figuratively and, given the milk texturing techniques, literally. That’s why in planning the 29 October CoffeeSaturday La Dolce Vita Pop-Up I sought support for the baristas Fabio Ferreira of Notes and Jeremy Challender of Prufrock.
Sue Aron, Chloe Callow and Ian James joined me in a Roman biscotti bakeoff. Sue, the creative force behind The Art of Puddings, baked pizza ebraica, which is not pizza as we know it but rather a distinctive biscuit from Rome’s Jewish quarter studded with nuts and fruits. Chloe The Faerietale Foodie and I both prepared tozzetti, the biscotti that is Rome’s answer to almond (or hazelnut) cantuccini. And Ian of Pie For Brains won the bake-off by the narrowest of margins with his take on brutti ma buoni (“ugly but good”), those impossibly light almond meringues.
Guest of honour Katie Parla, creator of the new and indispensible Rome Dining App, provided an expert voice from the Eternal City. She’s my go-to source on all things edible and drinkable in Rome. Since I can’t always have Katie around I’m happy to have her app.
So, yes, the 60-plus who signed up for this CoffeeSaturday pop-up did fall back in love with the traditional cappuccino. But, yes, the traditional cappuccino did have a lot of help.