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.]