Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Illy's Top Barista Coming to NYC to Kick Coffee Butt

I don't generally write about coffee. But that doesn't mean I don't care deeply about it. A finely honed espresso has been an important part of my life since I first journeyed to Rome in 1999. 

Brooklyn cafes furnish such a wide variety of roasts and styles nowadays, from La Colombe to Cafe Grumpy to Gorilla to Gimme! to Oslo to the parvenu Man About Campus Stumptown. But Illy still has a place in my heart as an early espresso idol. 

I remember the Italian coffee giant having a pop-up cafe in SoHo five years ago. However, it hasn't had a particularly flashy presence in the city since then, and the coffee momentum has been hijacked by the American indies. 

It appears that Illy has had enough of that. The Treiste-based company is dispatching its top barista, Giorgio Milos, to America as the company's "U.S. barista in residence." His mission: "to literally set the record straight—among consumers and the trade alike—about what coffee in the pure, Italian way is all about. In illy's view, it's time to hit the reset button, because things are getting way out of hand."

Ooo. Them's fightin' words! And that's only the beginning. Read:

"He'll preach to both end of the spectrum, helping neophyte enthusiasts learn how to pull great shots and steam milk, and argue to growing hordes of urban hipster coffee snobs why chasing a single origin bean all over the city is a waste of time. And explain why the standard espresso method, using specific levels of heat and pressure (invented by illy's founder in 1933, and still the blueprint) needn't be messed with."

This is gonna be good.

I will be meeting with Giorgio on March 15 and report back soon thereafter. Stay tuned.

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