Espresso & cappuccino

Pizza and espresso, these items embody the soul of Italy better than any other. And just as pizza is no longer the domain of Italy, having achieved mammoth status in Canada and the US, so too has espresso and its derivatives, cappuccino and latte.

While these two noble products are not inexorably tied to each other through the taste compatibility we apply to wines and food, many pizza purveyors, particularly those with reasonable seating capacity, have wisely made espresso beverages an intrinsic part of their business. In purist Italy, pizza is not consumed together with espresso, as it is with other beverages such as beer, carbonated beverages or water. Rather, it's the order of consumption. Espresso is the closer, the finish to the meal. A rich, syrupy, bittersweet coffee taste experience that lingers on one's palate.

Most foodservice operators for whom pizza is either their core business or an important component of the menu sell brewed coffee. Far fewer sell espresso and related beverages even though the compatibility, sale and profit opportunities may be better. Pizza operators often miss the boat filled with profit potential.

Many major roasters of fine espresso coffee blends and marketers of commercial Italian espresso machines hear the objections of operators even before their mouths open. "We don't have enough Italian clientele." "The equipment is too expensive." or "Not enough people drink espresso."

True enough, many operators reading this may have but a few Italian clients, machines are an investment and espresso is not a mass appeal product for the uninitiated. But as they say, "You don't have to be Jewish to eat bagels". The same holds true for espresso, and much more so for its products derivatives: cappuccino, iced cappuccino, mocha and latte.

These products are as mainstream as any products sold today. Whether you read your morning funnies and see Adam and Sherman's Lagoon, listen to the radio or watch television for the latest as for adult slushies (iced cappuccino), your average "Joe" is reaching as espresso-based beverage with lightning speed and regularity. If you aren't on the bandwagon, perhaps a more enlightened evaluation of the real costs and opportunities is worth looking at, especially if you have a reasonable sit-down business or adult skew to your take-out.