Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Caffe Calabria Expanding Offerings

All sorts of interesting and potentially wonderous things are happening at this North Park coffee roaster/coffee bar/cafe. In fact, the next "/" will be retailer as Arne is getting the back of the building ready to open a retail shop. Already, he's been selling bags of beans and tea, as well as coffee-making equipment, but he's also got some marvelous chocolates for sale, including Eclipse Chocolat bars and some more exotic varieties from Amedei in Tuscany and Claudio Corallo in Africa.

Arne is particularly excited about the Claudio Corallo chocolates because they come from a sustainable plantation called Terreiro Velho, in São Tome e Príncipe, a small African island nation on the West coast of the continent. Corallo has a very interesting story, which you can read about here.

I tried the "Soft" chocolate, tablets of 73.5 percent cocoa. It's slightly sweet, nutty and crunchy (thanks to the cocoa nibs), made only with cocoa, sugar and cocoa butter.

Amedei is based in Pisa and owned by brother and sister Alessio and Cecilia Tessieri. The beans come from growing regions that include Grenada, Jamaica, Madagascar, Trinidad, Ecuador and Venezuela. The beans are processed by the Tessieris in Italy and the recipes are created by Cecilia, a Maitre Chocolatier. Arne had me try the Toscano Brown, a luscious milk chocolate bar that is nevertheless restrained in sweetness. According to Arne, Caffe Calabria is the only shop south of Beverly Hills selling Amedei chocolates and only one of seven in all of California.

I also got a chance to taste a delicious cup of coffee from Caffe Calabria's new Clover machine, a large piece of technology that drop kicks the French press concept into the 21st century by allowing the barista to control the temperature and pressure of a single cup even as the machine compresses the ground coffee into a tight puck to extract the flavor.

Arne tells me that they're still refining their Clover coffee, working on getting that combination of temperature and pressure just right before they start serving to customers. So, stay tuned.

And, for those of you, who, like me, love the fresh roasts they sell but don't live close enough to stop by weekly (or whenever) for a pound bag, Caffe Calabria is going to start a subscription service in the near future. Sign up and you can get your coffee delivered at an interval that works for you so you don't have to put extra bags in the freezer. I've been assured that those of us who have come into the store and signed up will soon be getting an email blast with all the details.

Caffe Calabria is located at 3933 30th St. just north of University Ave. in North Park.

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