I’m not a coffee snob. When it comes down to it, I’m addicted to the stuff. If it doesn’t have chunks and is remotely lukewarm or hotter, I’ll drink it. When I get into places that specialize in sophisticated coffee drinks, I freeze. So when I walked into Terra Nera, the fast-paced Camden Market Italian coffee joint (filled to the brim with roughly six people per square foot) I panicked. I quickly scanned the complicated menu for something resembling a plain old coffee. The closest thing was caffè Americano. Of course. I’m the American in the Italian coffee shop in London ordering caffè Americano.
My barista was quick to point this out to me and yelled, “No. Not the Americano. Something sexy. You like sweet?”
Shamefully, I shook my head. “No.”
With a crowd of thirsty (more creative) customers behind me, he counted me as a lost cause and sadly served me my coffee: a shot of espresso with hot water to fill the cup. (Called Americano as a remnant of World War II, the drink was the closest thing to the drip coffee American soldiers craved from home.)
While my choice was a disappointment to my barista, it became my first step toward having a discriminating taste in coffee. I had countless Americanos throughout the trip, and found myself savoring each sip (rather than downing and refilling like I do with the free drip coffee at work.) Now, back home, I miss the drink, and not in that I-have-a-headache-because-I-need-a-caffeine-fix way. This, I fear, is going to create serious repercussions on my checking account. (Because if I’ve learned anything from NPR fund drives, it’s that the price of a cup of coffee adds up.)
Unit 301-302 Stables Market
Chalk Farm Road NW1 8AH