I have a new job, dear-readers. With it has come a new commute, and although I could view this new commute as a new soul-destroying trudge, I prefer to see it as a new trail to blaze within London, with new delights to discover along the way.
One of the most pleasant has been the sight of the two ‘caffe mobiles’ which await me every morning as I exit Highbury & Islington Station. My new commute is much longer, and after exiting the station I have about a 15- to 20-minute walk before arriving at my office. The caffe mobiles, like shining beacons of Italian civilization, serve as a pleasant rest stop and mental refueling station as I make my way towards the start of my day.
I used to work in a Starbucks-like cafe during high school and university, and although I never perfected my espresso grinding (due to weather) or how to ensure my crema was perfectly formed, I did learn and master how to foam milk properly. As I’m sure most of you enlightened beings are aware, I’m not speaking of big bubbles of tasteless styrofoam-like fuzz that adorn some cappuccinos and lattes out there. I’m talking about velvet-smooth, perfectly regular milk foam, the kind that makes you wish you could take a bath in it.
There was a time when I was so consistently disappointed with the quality of milk foam I received at standard mainstream espresso bars in North America and the UK that I stopped going to them altogether. If I couldn’t go round the counter and do it myself, I wanted no part of it.
The beautiful thing about Caffe Mobil for me is that in the three times I’ve bought coffee there on the way to work, the milk has always been foamed perfectly and the espresso divine. The machines are manual — with each espresso made or pitcher of milk foamed, the maker must pull a giant lever releasing the steam or the water into the coffee.
There is an unpretentious air to all of it while still retaining a steadfast commitment to quality. The milk is perfect, and the espresso also flawless, with no time wasted drawing froofy little designs on the top of the drink. Behold my latte: simple, smooth and sophisticated.