Pay it forward: caffe sospeso

There’s a bit of a movement in the coffee scene to truly distinguish cafes as a “third place” – a safe haven from home or the office. It’s a nice idea. It’s in keeping with the traditional Italian cafe culture – which you can read a bit about here – in this article.

Here’s a nice little “pay it forward” aspect of coffee culture:

It is not uncommon for a contented patron to pay for two cups of espresso when he gets to the cashier—one for himself and one as an offering to humanity, or to the guy lucky enough to be next in line. This extra coffee is commonly referred to as a caffè sospeso, or a dangling espresso.

And here’s what Italians apparently think of my predilection for cappuccinos…

“There is, however, one rule that holds true throughout the peninsula: a cappuccino is only a breakfast drink. No self-respecting Italian would be caught dead sipping on a cup of hot milk with a splash of coffee anytime after the mid-day meal.”

Froth and bubbles

Stephen Morrison is the current World Barista Champion. So his opinions are worth considering when it comes to coffee. Here’s what he has to say about how to craft a nice cappuccino:

“I hate froth. That horrible aerated hallmark of badly textured, often burnt milk. The word foam evokes much nicer sensory memories. For me, in the context of milk, foam means OK, froth means nasty.”

And here’s why you should keep your coffee machine nice and clean (and well serviced)… especially if you run a cafe, and the World Barista Champion drops by, and then writes something about the experience on his blog:

“Oddly the temperature was OK, but I think they may have just added some cold milk at the end. The taste itself was just rank. I really really don’t like dirty machines, especially that dirty machine taste. Well this cappuccino just tasted like licking a dirty portafilter basket with a hint of chocolate (from the actual chocolate – not a nuance of the coffee) and a little bit of flat un-sweet froth. Bitter, ashy and wrong.”

Coffee and the environment

Here’s an interesting coffee article with the following environmental and economical message:

“Last year, Britons spent about £750 million on coffee, but only a small fraction of this on espressos. Think of the huge amount of money that would be saved if the majority of coffee-bar patrons switched to espressos from cappuccinos. The country’s milk bill would fall and its carbon footprint would shrink too.”

Not only is coffee an excessive drain on water stocks – milk is bad too. This is all very well – except the same writer also describes the cappuccino experience (amongst others – including the corretto – a shot with alcohol)

“There is no doubt that the most popular variant is the cappuccino (“little hood”), at its best a glorious drink consisting of equal parts espresso, milk and foam. The experience of consuming a perfectly made cappuccino is sensual to the point of decadence.”

Scroll to Top