11.13.2008

New Lavazza Cafe Concept in Chicago

There's good news for downtown Chicago's more demanding coffee drinker or connoisseur! Italian coffee experts Lavazza, are planning to open a concept cafe in the tres chic The Drake hotel of Chicago.

According to the 312Dining Diva blog, Lavazza is opening this concept cafe by the appellation: Espression (their website is very cirque du soleil). The soon-to-be hot spot is said to feature fantastic design and delicious coffee, gelato, and pastries on its menu. Sounds like a dream come true! ^_^

For the past eight years after moving back into the Chicagoland area, I've been noticing that the Italian coffee manufacturer, Lavazza, has been trying to penetrate the tricky American coffee shop market with two Lavazza Blue locations in Aurora and St. Charles (now closed). A tricky endeavor for anyone when facing two major challenges from the word go: (1) main competitor, Starbucks, is throwing money at overdosing the market and (2) the American palate for coffee is not very sophisticated -- hey, but it's true! Anyone familiar with office, diner, and restaurant glass pots sitting on hot plates all day, acidifying and intensifying a disgusting-tasting brown liquid mess? bleh!

For those who are not familiar with Lavazza, the company's largeish coffee tins and branded cups are sold in many fresh-market style or Italian-American grocers' coffee sections. Some of the more sophisticated American cafes and restaurants (usually Italian) feature Lavazza products -- check for branded cups or the menu. Lavazza coffee comes in a few varieties to keep you interested, such as decaf, creamy, regular, gran, etc., and they also sell gorgeous coffee machines for home or office, that may very well set you back several hundred or thousand dollars. Small price to pay to enjoy a true cup of coffee that tastes like God intended it to, no?

I've never been a big fan of Starbucks because their shops smell like burnt beans and their coffee sometimes tastes like it. For a "senses" person such as myself, a burnt coffee smell upon entering a coffee shop is an unacceptable experience -- and one in complete and unpleasant contrast to the soothing, smooth, and welcoming smell in a typical European coffee bar. At home I favor my trusty, manual Italian espresso maker pot (two servings) and decaf Lavazza--usually sidestepping my proper espresso/cappucino machine. It's the "senses" and slow-foodiness of the experience, dontcha know! ^_^

So I have put a visit to the brand-spanking new Espression cafe on my must-do list for my Friday downtown field trips. If I manage to make it to Espression, I'll be hitting two birds with one stone, with a visit to The Drake hotel -- I somehow always end up sidetracked and stop-short at the Chanel store around the corner from the hotel...to window shop and...er...wipe my drool away ;o)

Without further ado, I leave this topic, and you, with warmest espresso wishes and macchiato dreams!

;o)

- J