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Artisanal Espresso Pioneer Since 1978
January 2016 Issue / Vol. 4, No. 2                                     Wood-roasted coffee beans create a classic espresso profile.


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Mr. Espresso, Artisanal Espresso Pioneers Since 1978 | Featuring Wood-roasted Coffee Beans | Oakland, CA In the early 1900s, a Sicilian immigrant to New Orleans created the muffuletta to cure his hankering for his homeland’s muffuliette. San Francisco’s specialty fish stew, cioppino, came by way of Genoan fisherman in, or before, the 1930s. In 1978, Italian immigrant Carlo Di Ruocco decided to make Italian espresso a part of every good meal in his new Bay Area home. “They don’t have coffee in Italy,” explained Di Ruocco’s son, Luigi. “It’s just espresso. Technically, yes, you can get a cup of coffee in Italy, in certain places. Maybe in an airport or in touristy areas and hotels. For the most part, coffee doesn’t exist. Espresso is the coffee way of life there.” From post-World War II into the 1970s, Di Ruocco correctly described coffee in the U.S. as “really bad.” “Coffee quality in the country had fallen to new lows,” Di Ruocco said. “Poor-quality beans, lightly roasted, and very weakly brewed.” Basically, buy cheap, sell dear, and bend a penny along the way. Di Ruocco explained. “The beans lose less mass with a light roasting. They retain more weight. If you’re crunching numbers, it allows you to lose less weight. The weak brew came from being frugal. So what you had was this mass-market-tasting coffee—light, weak and bad quality.” And that’s why Carlo decided to do something. “At the time,” Di Ruocco said, “a number of pioneers of specialty coffee started getting back to the old concept of buying good-quality beans and roasting them in a way that achieved the best flavors of the coffee. My dad was one of those people.”