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Latte versus cappuccino and finding the true king of coffee

Updated: Oct 28, 2020

TALLINN 6 October 2020

After posting my top 5 coffees in Tallinn last week, I have since experienced a coffee that blows all five out of the water. This cannot be compared with the five from that list but has to be placed in a super class of its own – coffee royalty.

The disappointment I was experiencing after having returned from the coffee excellence that can be quite easily found in Sydney and Melbourne (after a year downunder) sent me in search of a decent coffee in Tallinn. As last week’s post implies that search was often fruitless, although I stand by my top five in that post as decent examples of coffee that at least tick the basic requirements – the coffees have flavour and the baristas understand the elements they are in charge of sufficiently to achieve a cohesive beverage.

Latte v Cappuccino

I am still a little flummoxed by the classification of cappuccino versus latte in Estonia. It seems to me that most cafes here are still under the impression that if you take a cappuccino and add more milk, it becomes a latte. Where this fallacy comes from, I have no idea, but I suspect the brand-building American coffee chains (I dare not mention these felons by name) might have something to do with this untruth. Anyone who has visited Italy any time in the last 50 or 60 years (and stayed away from the main tourist traps) will know that a cappuccino comes in a cup (no need for the over-sized buckets – we just want a coffee, not slops in a trough!) with a beautifully full cap of foam. A latte comes in a glass (and again nothing fancy, no stemware, no silly handle – just a glass) and it is basically the Italian version of a flat white, so it will necessarily have less foam capping it off. That’s right you heard me correctly – less foam! Basically, since it is made with hot milk, it just needs to have enough foam to stop a skin forming. No one wants milk skin getting stuck to and then burning their lips with the first sip. So that’s it, rant complete, time for another sip.

Given the above, and since I would normally like a true latte, in Tallinn I have taken to asking for cappuccinos because that way I mostly don’t get an insipid milky abomination. It is just this particular coffee drinker’s approach to disaster avoidance. Now we come to the subject of my post. The Brick – a small coffee roastery in Telliskivi.

I had had lunch and spent an hour enjoying the terrific exhibition at the Juhan Kuus Documentary Photo Centre (see yesterday’s post here), and was heading in the direction of Surf Café for my standard double-shot from them, when I saw The Brick and decided to look inside. Inside I met founder Henry Politanov, and as he began serving me I was immediately impressed by the way he had side-stepped the whole cappuccino-latte confusion, explaining how he sells coffee with milk or without. And if you like more milk, he’ll put the espresso shot in a larger cup and if you like less, he’ll use a small cup. Perfect! I took a small cup.

He also explained as he made my coffee that they supply coffee to a lot of the cafes around town, including many on my top five, but here in their own outlet, they only serve high altitude Ethiopian coffee. He let me smell the espresso, which was lovely, and then the milk went in and I took my coffee. One sip, wow! It was super, I was very happy to find such a great coffee and only paid 2.80. I left to continue my walk home. Second sip, wow! The complexity of flavour hit me – I am not going to bore you with tasting notes here, northeast is not that kind of blog, but I had to go back in and tell Henry again how amazing his coffee was. Then I finally left him to his next customer, who had waited very patiently while Henry was explaining his trade and approach, and then again patiently put up with me stumbling back in and interrupting to say how good the coffee was.

I cannot recommend The Brick highly enough. Get down to Telliskivi, ask Henry for the coffee of your choice and then enjoy it with some fine photography around the corner at Juhan Kuus Documentary Photo Centre.

The Brick Coffee Roastery



Posted by Michael Haagensen

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