Coffee with A Molecular Twist at Lavazza
After braving the long, chaotic lines at all those Black Friday mega sales, you’ll surely be in need of a pick-me-up.
Why not make it one with a little molecular gastronomy thrown in to boot?
The artsy Vespa-red Italian cafe is the first of its kind on the West Coast by the famed Italian coffee roaster. More locales are expected in the near future around the Bay Area.
Last week, I had a chance to sample the goods as a guest at the grand opening party. Scoops of vanilla gelato, samples of focaccia sandwiches, and arugula salads stuffed into crisp, lacy Parmesan cups made the rounds.
The tiramisu and chocolate tortes tasted fresh and classic. They’re flown in daily from Italy.
But I was there to taste the coffee. After all, the family-owned company has been roasting coffee since 1895 when founder Luigi Lavazza opened a small grocery store in Turin, Italy.
It didn’t disappoint. As espresso, the coffee has a muscular richness, but is quite smooth and balanced. There’s just enough bitterness on the finish. There are lovely notes of chocolate and chicory.
The way to try it is in one of Chef Ferran Adria’s concoctions. The pioneer of molecular gastronomy, Adria, created two specialty coffee treats exclusively for Lavazza, which turn liquid coffee into a solid.
For those familiar with Adria’s culinary genius, he’s basically taken his now-famous technique of creating foam and applied it to coffee. The coffee is mixed with what the Lavazza folks say is a secret ingredient. Most likely, it’s the thickener, xanthum gum. The mixture is put into a siphon equipped with N2O cartridges. It’s chilled for eight hours. When it’s squirted into a chilled espresso cup, what you get is a puff of airy foam that you eat with a whimsical spoon with a hole in it. It’s the consistency of shaving cream and thick enough that you can turn the cup upside down without it dripping out. Take a spoonful and the taste of pure espresso hits your tongue with intensity, then just dissipates. The foam remains fairly stable for a few minutes, but the longer it is exposed to air the more it will eventually liquify.
The purest form is the Espesso, straight espresso foamed a la Adria. There’s also the Espesso Macchiato, which features the espresso foam alongside milk done up as foam in the same way. You can mix them together or enjoy them separately. The natural sweetness of the milk really shines through, too.
Adria’s illustrious El Bulli in Spain may have closed. But here’s a way to get just a little taste of his creative spirit in coffee form.
More: Ferran Adria’s Beer