Ah, the intoxication of coffee first thing in the morning – the glossy beans, some dark as night, some the colour of milk chocolate; the rumble of the grinder; the perfume rising up to fill the kitchen, earthy, primal, infinitely seductive; the hiss of the superheated water; the sharp, intense, tantalising aroma; the cascade of black magic into the cup; and then – it’s worth getting up and facing the world for just that moment.

I pity people for whom there are no coffee rituals in the morning, or who take their coffee in a cardboard or polystyrene bucket.

They know nothing of the higher realms.

They know nothing of the harmonies, the zen-like pleasures of making and sipping this divine potion, a bastion and moat against the world’s incivilities. 

While that first cup baptises my mouth and tastebuds each day, lifts the spirits and calms the nerves, my coffee pleasures do not end there. 

A short, sharp espresso around 10.30 breaks the tedium of the working morning, and gives me the strength to refocus my mind (such as it is). 

And then another – always a single, never a double – to clear the palate at the end of lunch, the finely-incised olfactory full stop at the end of a gastronomic essay.

And one last hurrah after dinner to signify the end of the day’s pleasures.

Not for me the world of flat whites, long blacks, macchiatos and mochaccinos.

Or even cappuccinos or dalgonas, come to that.

And never, ever, ever ‘instant’. I’d rather down a cup of carbolic.

No. My love of coffee is expressly espresso, precise and to the point to leave me with a sense of repletion, completion and elevation.

I’m delighted to say that I’ve been appointed as ‘conduttore’ by Piano Coffee. Among other things, I’ll be writing the odd blog for Piano Coffee’s website about my love of Italy, Italians, Italian food, Italian football, coffee in Italy and Italian-style coffee in particular. I’ll also serve up these blogs in fortonfood as the odd tincture to freshen up the day.


  1. Wow, four coffees per day would completely debilitate me, but I’m absolutely in accord with the pleasures of the ritual. I have one coffee per day, at around 11. I buy pre-ground from Pact, an excellent subscription service. I use a Hario filter and ‘pour over’ in the French style. The procedure is slow, focused and always lures you with the sense that you could be doing something better. I try to let the water from the office urn come down to around 80 degrees as I find this lessens bitterness and accentuates the coffee’s fruit and nut flavours (such as they may be, Pact coffee can range anywhere from brisk fresh pineapple to fresh almond to roasted cacao nib – although as you can tweak your order so I tend to opt for medium-to-dark roasted coffees with chocolate and fruit notes). I drink it black, unsweetened, and adore the daily indulgence of deep, thick, sublimely concentrated flavours, whisking me off to exotic sunny hillsides in Brazil, Rwanda, Colombia… The rest of the day is dedicated to tea, where the ritual is all the more refined and the flavours even more elegant and evocative.

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