Charles-Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord, 1st Prince of Benevento, 1st Prince of Talleyrand, sometime bishop, politician, and diplomat, declared that he like his coffee ‘black as the devil, hot as  hell, pure as an angel, sweet as love’. I’m with Charles-Maurice on this. Most of it anyway. That’s why I’ve never seen the point of a double espresso. By the time you’ve drained the last drop, it may still be black as the devil, but it certainly won’t be hot as hell, pure as an angel or sweet as love. It’ll be cold, drab and sickly. I’d prefer to drink a series of single, freshly made espressi one after the other than bother with a double.

Most of the time I take my espresso unsweetened, but sometimes I like to add a touch of sugar to my midmorning tincture. Sweetening diminishes the acidity in a coffee and broadens out the chocolate notes. At least, that’s my theory. And when I do, I always use caster sugar.  The sugar has to melt as quickly as possible or the divine sip won’t be hot as hell, etc etc. That’s why you only see caster sugar in bars in Italy and why the brown and white sugar lumps favoured by brainless chefs and maitre ds are an abomination and should be consigned to the rubbish. Your coffee will be stone cold by the time these have melted sufficiently to do their job.

[Ok, ok. I’ll confess. If I do come across them, I get a simple-minded pleasure in dipping them into the coffee and then sucking on them. Just as I used to beg to scrape up the part-melted sugar crystals that my parents favoured.]



4 thoughts on “SINGULAR COFFEE

  1. But when at home which coffee from eg Waitrose or Ocado should I be trying? Just returned from a year in Australia and struggling to find a reasonably priced coffee that hasn’t been passed through a small animal first.

    1. For my breakfast coffee I buy a mix of Ethopian Yirgacheffe and Negresco beans from Markus Coffee, 13 Connaught Street, Marble Arch, London, W2 2AY. Telephone: 020 7723 4020; 020 7262 4630. Email: I grind it as needed on a very old Gaggia machine. For midmorning coffee I use Lavazza Tierra or Rossa capsules. Shocking, I know, but there we are.

  2. Dear Mr Fort, If you’re still in and around Stroud then get yourself to Bath and Colonna and Smalls…
    The reason people, especially Italians and French, add sugar is because they like their beans “over roasted” and therefore bitter. Non-over roasted coffee doesn’t need sugar.
    Over the years I have unlearned and relearned about coffee. Whether it’s an espresso, V60, Aeropress, Filter I always have it black now and the flavour profiles that you get from what I would call “properly” roasted coffee are like tasting wine.
    They also do mail-order… here…

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