Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Learn From Your Mistakes

Learn from your mistakes. This is an often-told quote, meant to encourage and inspire. It took a whole new meaning for me the other day at an Italian bar (aka coffee shop). Molly and I decided to create a new pattern when we arrived in Castiglion that consisted of running, buying fruit from a little store, and then getting coffee. The first two had been accomplished – we even learned a few Italian fruit names at the fruit shop – when we attempted to conquer the coffee shop. Maybe my confidence was high because I just learned how to say grapes in Italian, but I thought it would be a good time to order my coffee in Italian without asking questions.
This is what warm milk looks like
I looked at the menu and saw “Latte Bianca.” I guess I just assumed that they were all automatically coffee drinks, because when I saw ‘latte’ I just thought, “Oh, milk in my coffee.” I basically disregarded the ‘bianca’, because I figured it was either flavoring, maybe vanilla, or describing the milk that went in my coffee. So, I confidently ordered my pastry and coffee in Italian without asking for help.
I got warm milk.
I should’ve known it wasn’t vanilla, because we learned in class that vanilla is expensive due to its unique pollination by the bees, and the complicated harvesting process that follows to compensate. Considering my coffee and pastry cost a total of two euros, that should’ve been my first hint. Also, the barista’s slight smile should’ve shed some light that this wasn’t a cappuccino.
This is what a cappuccino looks like
Don’t worry – I only order basic cappuccinos now. I appreciate the coffee so much more now after learning about the coffee plant in class. While I couldn't tell you if the coffee I ordered was arabica or robusta, I could appreciate the fact that the beans (or 'cherries') roasted to make my coffee were hand-harvested. The beans have to be hand-harvested because not all the 'cherries' ripen at the same time, therefore mechanical harvest is hard. This is because the coffee shrub is a tropical plant, and therefore a typical characteristic is that it has asynchronous ripening. After harvest the beans can go through either dry processing (soaking the bean to make it soft before removing the shell) or wet processing (putting the bean in the sun to dry out the skin). Depending on how the bean is then roasted, the coffee is either strong or weak. Luckily for me, the Italians prefer the city roast, which is a more mild flavor.
Un cappuccino. Grazie.
-Courtney Catalani

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