September 28, 2012

The Secret to Enjoying the Perfect Cup of Espresso from Daria Illy

A guest blog post from Darine Sabbagh*

 A few weeks back I had the pleasure of personally meeting Daria Illy, the grand daughter of Francesco Illy, who started Illy Cafe and also invented the first automatic espresso machine for all of us to enjoy. Because Illy want to bring pleasure through their coffee, Daria explained to each of the attendees personally how a great shot of espresso should look like. 
Coffee is an art 

So here are her tips for the perfect cup of espresso and how to drink it:

  • Make sure you observe the barista making your shot. 
  •  The coffee needs to be freshly ground from a good selection of beans that balance the different flavors of coffee. Illy Coffee for instance is made out of 9 different coffee beans from across the world. 
  • As the coffee stream slides down the machine and pours into your cup like olive oil make sure the foam is a light hazelnut, covering all of your coffee. If you spot  any darkness or blackness in the foam you should return your shot to the barista. 
  •  Check the fragrance of your shot, it should be aromatic and indulgent, urging you to take the next sip.
  • Taste your coffee, it should balance a little bit of acidity and sweetness. If it tastes too bitter or burnt, then it was not made from good coffee and you can return it. ( Illy and their distributors work closely with restaurants and cafes in training baristas and ensuring the right procedure is followed during the making of your shot, so they do insist that you return a cup that is not made right)
    Daria Illy explaining the art of getting the perfect Espresso!

The History of the Espresso in Lebanon

As the event was honoring Green & Co, their Lebanese distributor, as the distributor. It was also a candid moment where the company's CEO Mark Naman, retold how his father stumbled upon Illy coffee in Italy, fell in love with it, kept ordering it for personal use and later on decided to bring the espresso culture to Lebanon. 

According to Mark, 20 years ago, restaurants and cafe's discovered the espresso machine, but were using turkish coffee for the shots. And since Turkish Coffee is made for beans which are suitable for boiling to open up their flavors  and not a steam machine, the coffee turned out very bitter and dark. Yet restaurants loved using the machines since it simplified the task of making coffee and was quite an innovation, and did not know of any other types of coffee available. Hereto came Marc's father, who decided to bring real espresso to Lebanon and worked hard with his team to educate the market on what the real pleasure of drinking the espresso is all about.  

Illy: From Italy to Lebanon
Even though I am more of a tea lover myself, I could not help but fall more in love with Illy coffee's creativity, the candor of their team and personal approach during the event (unlike any other press or launching event I have been to), and felt compelled to share what I have learned, since that cup of espresso made by Marc and Daria for us was really magical.
Enjoying the perfect cup!
*Darine S. is  a passionate marketer and a firm believer in SEO, wishful thinking & chocolate. She loves mixing with cool people, technology and information architecture. She is currently in beirut and she blogs on . You can find her on twitter : @Sdarine

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