Bicerin: Turin Traditional Coffee
Bicerin, Turin’s traditional coffee: easy on the eyes and on the taste buds
If you’ve set foot in Italy at least once, then surely you’ll have tried a real espresso – what Italians simply call caffè: a dense gulp of energy and flavor! And perhaps you may have tasted a piece of local chocolate, and realized it’s every bit as good as its Swiss or German equivalent, if not better. Try putting the two together and the result, I can assure you, is a true feast for the palate. The result is something called Bicerin, Turin traditional coffee, which is served throughout the whole region of Piedmont (or Piemonte), a place I’d only heard about for its revered Barolo wine.
But before I give you the scoop on the bicerin, I’d like to tell you a bit about its home town of Turin. First of all, you need to remember that beyond world-famous cities like Milan, Rome or Florence, Italy has many other places that are just bursting with beauty. Turin, or Torino, is definitely one of them. Having been there, I can guarantee it’s a town that needs to be seen. I especially recommend visiting if you’re a fan of history (the Egyptian Museum is the world’s second largest), if you’re a sucker for Lavazza coffee (one of the leading Italian coffee brands, which is headquartered here, and was the first coffee that was ever drunk in space!) or if you love open-air multi-cultural markets (the one by Porta Palazzo is Europe’s biggest).
Where to try bicerin, Turin traditional coffee
Intrigued, I decided to visit this city, and thanks to a couple of friends who live there, I got to experience a typical local “bar”. They took me to Caffè Al Bicerin, a historic spot in piazza della Consolata 5, which actually claims to have invented the famous beverage. The café, built in 1763, might be the tiniest place I’ve ever been to: it was positively minuscule, cute as a button with its wooden interiors, and – not surprisingly given its history and reputation – absolutely packed.
If you’re lucky, you can sit at one of tables inside. Otherwise, just order at the bar and try to blend in with the many regulars chatting over espressos. You’ll be transported by the aroma of the freshly-ground beans, and reach a whole new level of “yum” when you finally take your first sip of bicerin, Turin traditional coffee. The beverage will surprise you right from its appearance, as it consists of three distinct layers, different in color and also in temperature: the hot coffee is at the bottom, the chocolate in the middle, and up top is a cold layer of milk cream. If you really want to reach Flavor Nirvana, you should probably do what the locals suggest: mix it all up with your spoon. You’ll feel bad ruining the pretty composition, but the bitterness of the coffee will blend perfectly with the sweetness of the chocolate, and your taste buds will thank you!
If it’s getting dark out and the renowned Al Bicerin café is so full you can’t even squeeze your way in, head to Caffè Mulassano in piazza Castello, and don’t leave until you’ve tried their specialty: the bicerin with cream of meringues. Initially conceived for those who are lactose-intolerant and can’t enjoy the traditional version, it turned out so good that it’s now their best-selling item. I must confess, though, that the one place that really captured my heart is La Bottega di Guido Gobino, in via Giuseppe Luigi Lagrange 1. And that is because, next to the “original” bicerin with chocolate and milk cream, they’ve come up with a sinfully delicious version with nutella and whipped cream. Forget about your diets and exercise regimens just for a minute, and indulge your sweet tooth with this scrumptious cup of delight: it’s worth it! Just the thought of it is making my mouth water…
These, in my opinion, are the spots you need to jot down if you’re planning a trip to Turin. But since I’m sure that some of you aren’t willing to cheat on your diet, or just plain don’t like espresso, here’s one last gem I’m sure you’ll appreciate. I’m talking about Miagola Caffè, Italy’s first Cat Café. Yup, you heard me right: Cat Café. Home of the one and only cattuccino (the “feline” version of Italian cappuccino), the place is known for its excellent vegetarian and vegan cuisine. Write down the address, via Giovanni Amendola 6D, and prepare to take in the vintage vibes in the company of some of the friendliest kitties you’ll ever meet.
Ciao! Or should I say… Meow!