Saturday, November 12, 2011

Drat! Curses! Coffee, stat!

Remember last post I promised a new page? Well, it would be easy to add a new page, but it wouldn't be a page to which I can post! So the food lit posts will be incorporated here on the main page of the blog. Let's drown our disappointment in a good cup of coffee, as in reading about a good cup of coffee. As in the Coffee House Mysteries by Cleo Coyle. She's up to ten books, all based on the queen of barristas, Clare Cosi, who manages The Blend, a high-end coffee house in Greenwich Village. All the requisite murder mystery characters are present: Clare, the amateur but highly effective sleuth, her handsome and undependable ex-husband, Matteo; their young adult daughter, Joy, and Mike Quinn, police detective and love interest for Clare. Oh, yes, and the doyen, Madame, Matteo's mother and owner of The Blend. You can visit and be wowed by the fast moving trailer built into the web site, or you can savor the aroma of murder and mocha at your own pace by curling up in that ubiquitous easy chair with a book and a cuppa.

In addition to providing well-paced action and consistently good characterization, these books have educated my about coffee. Isn't that one of the perks about a good novel? We learn something while we are being entertained. For instance, I may be the only person in our caffeinated world who was pleased and surprised to know that dark roasts have less caffeine than regular. Good for me, since I favor the dark roasts, that a bit of cream dropped into really fresh coffee will bloom, whereas the same bit of cream in stale coffee will sink under the oils that have floated to the top. That real espresso is made slowly, otherwise, you just have brewed coffee. I now know the difference between a latte and a macchiato--silly me for not having known before now that one is "marked" with the cream. The other one contains more milk.

This coffee science has to result from real knowledge on Coyle's part. I asked the barrista at my favorite coffee shop today about the importance of the crema--that light tan froth that floats on the surface of a well-pulled espresso. He nodded, like, duh! I could not write Coyle's stories convincingly because I don't know spit about running an espresso machine. So, Coyle ("she" is two people, a husband/wife team of writers) not only writes about what she obviously knows, but she knows what she's writing about. Good idea.

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