Don’t dare view an espresso as a quick caffeine fix. It’s ritual that soothes the soul.
Coffee was once believed by some Christians to be the devil’s drink. When Pope Vincent the third heard about this, the story goes, he decided to taste the "evil" drink before banishing it. But he ended up enjoying it so much, that he baptised it, saying, "Coffee is so delicious it would be a pity to let the infidels have exclusive use of it."
Hailed for its simulative qualities rather than its flavour, coffee was once associated with plesbian taste. But that has changed and the coffee revolution has also come to South Africa, turning ordinary drinkers into coffee cognoscenti. These new converts understand that drinking a cup of coffee is so much more than a caffeine fix- it’s a ritual.
There’s a huge difference in opinion amongst coffee aficionados around the world as to how to make the perfect brew. The Moroccans add whole peppercorns for added kick, the Ethiopians take it with a pinch of salt and the Turks drink it with extra sugar at weddings, and without sugar at funerals.
For Brad Armitage and Rui Esteves of Vida e Caffe – the coolest boutique espresso bar on Cape Town’s Kloof street – it’s a complete sensory experience. "Coffee has many faces… the plant, the berry, the bean, the roasted blend – and finally the beverage. Coffee soothes the soul. It’s not only about savouring the taste -it’s about savouring the experience," says Brad.
Brad and Rui travelled the world together, and returned brimming with inspiration and the desire to create the perfect espresso. "Espresso is only good when it’s perfect. And there are so many aspects of an espresso that you need to get it right," says Brad, counting them off on his fingers. "There’s the blend, the amount of coffee you use, the pressure used to tamp the coffee down, the temperature, pressure and hardness of the water.
Add to that how you grind it (not too fine or it will burn, not too coarse or the espresso will be watery) and the size of the filter – too complicated to go into – and one can understand that making the perfect espresso is nothing short of a miracle. To prepare the perfect espresso you need to be an artist!"
"Keep it simple but do it right," is the secret to vida e Caffe’s success. Brad understands that perfect coffee should be accompanied by perfect pastry, which brings us to the pasteis de nata, a sumptuous, traditional Portuguese baked custard pastry.
Muffins are freshly baked every morning, and if you haven’t been to Vida e Caffe, you haven’t experienced a real muffin. A Portuguese "mamma" helped Brad and Rui perfect the recipe, and the unusual, combinations include banana and pecan nut, apple and cinnamon, espresso and choc chip, sun-dried tomato and feta, and savoury sausage.
story by Maja Bezuidenhout. from Eat In
image by of coffee