Rachel Roddy’s Recipes for Iced Coffee Three Ways | Food
A a few years ago we were driving along Circonvallazione Ostiense when the smell of roasted coffee flew through the car window. It was morning in an area full of bars – so not unusual except the smell has been unusual: thick, like toast, beef, charcoal and caramel. Our noses twitched and we speculated about where it came from. But we were also late.
A few months later, Corrado, who runs a stall in the Testaccio market, got a new coffee: bags of gold from Torrefazione San Salvador di Luigi Pinci. Not only was it my type, but it was the answer to the question of what came in through the window. A few days later, we returned to Garbatella to find Luigi Pinci.
It all started in 1901, when Luigi’s grandfather, also Luigi Pinci, took a job as a caretaker at Torrefazione La Pallavicini via Benzoni, who was then “the finest coffee roaster in Rome”. The work was accompanied by housing, for the children and then the grandchildren, including Luigi, born in 1934, “practically sui sacchi di caffè” (practically on bags of coffee beans), this is where it has remained ever since.
In the early 1970s, married and father of a family, Luigi rented the shop in Piazza Attilio Pecile. For 40 years he was a general eating, selling bread, cheese, salami and dry goods. But it was mostly a roasting, a wood-fired coffee roaster, which a lucky friend who grew up nearby said provided a whirlwind euphoria. In 2015, three generations decided to focus even more on what they do best, which is the torrefazione, and turn the store into a cafeteria – the most beautiful in Rome, in my opinion.
Now 84, Luigi goes to bed, dreams and wakes up thinking about roasting. When I ask him what coffee means to him, he replies: everything. Helped by his wife Rita, his children Elisabetta and Claudio and his granddaughter Martina, he still puts on his brown jacket and roasts three times a week. The mixedor bean blend, is the combination taught to him by his grandfather and father, and shaped by a lifetime of buying beans from good suppliers and roasting them.
The roaster looks a bit like a power train – a cylinder on a base that includes the small wood-fired oven. A vacuum-like tube springs from the top of the cylinders, arches across the room and ends in the vat, the mouth where the beans are spilled. They are then drawn into the roasting cylinder, which tumbles, ensuring the beans are roasted evenly. It takes about 22 minutes (compared to four in industrial roasting). Occasionally, Luigi rams an apple corer into the side of the cylinder to extract a few kernels, checking their progress from green to rich brown. Once roasted, the beans cascade into a large plate, where a metal arm pushes them into a funnel. But not before Luigi looks at them. Beans are ground to order at the long bar.
I write this on a hot day in a smelly town. The answer is cold coffee – unfortunately not, but at least inspired by, Torrefazione SS, which does not (unlike most bars) have a bottle filled with espresso, possibly sweetened, ready in the fridge. They’re also not rude to places or people who do it – clearly it’s not good enough for their coffee.
They serve three types of coffee freddo. The first is coffee in ghiacciofor which – so the contrast effect is all up to you – they give you a small carafe of espresso and a glass with five or six ice cubes, so you take charge.
The second is coffee leccese, in the style of Lecce in Puglia. Again you are given a carafe of espresso and a glass with ice cubes and a centimeter of almond syrup, which darkens the dark tan coffee – maybe not one for coffee lovers, but definitely one for me (if you can’t find the syrup, almond milk is almost as good).
The third option is shakerato coffee, which involves hot coffee, sugar to taste, and ice, mixed into a froth that settles in two tones. Claudio suggests making it in a jam jar at home: a single espresso, a spoonful of sugar and five ice cubes, close the lid and shake like crazy. They serve that in a martini glass, so I do that too, for the glamour, and then raise it to the Pinci family.