Some time ago I decided to expand my section dedicated to coffee and write about its different aspects, not only recipes, but also its references in history, art and entertainment. When I had the opportunity to review a book with coffee in the title and where the author is a famous barista from Rome, I grabbed the idea with great enthusiasm.
The title of the book is “L’Ultimo caffè della sera” by Diego Galdino and is the sequel to his first book “Il primo caffè del mattino”. Together with the author, we move to Rome, where for many years Massimo Tiberi has been running his coffee bar. The moment we meet Massimo we find him suffering because his great love (who we met in the first novel) has left him.
The beautiful first part of the book is dedicated to the inner torment of the protagonist, to his efforts to heal the broken heart and the sorrowful soul. The book takes off slowly, just like Massimo’s recovery. Thank goodness that this long suffering is altered by cheerful and funny descriptions of characters who are part of lively general picture that describes the bar.
The book has a very pleasant turn when we finally meet Mina, Massimo’s new love. The girl is simply a breath of fresh air both for the protagonist and for the readers and we can do nothing but enjoy her presence because she is beautiful, cheerful and with a simple and kind soul. From the moment we get to know the girl we can’t help but smile at all the efforts of the protagonist to make her feel special. We follow their intimate moments, when they learn to know each other and obviously when they fall madly in love. And when we think that the happy ending is just around the corner, here the past of Massimo comes back and he finds himself having to choose between his first great love and between who healed his heart.
Obviously I do not intend to spoil and tell you how the book ends but I can only say that at Massimo’s first impulsive reaction the I just wanted to grab him and to yell at him: where are you going?! are you crazy?
The book is quite light and carefree. I think the ending is the highlight of the novel. The tormented beginning and the moments of great romance between the two lovers, however, often turned out to be a bit repetitive. That said … I couldn’t help but feel some butterflies in my stomach at the first encounter between the protagonists or at their first kiss.
How about the coffee? I am sure that the original manuscript smells of coffee. As I mentioned before, for me, besides the end of the book, the important part is dedicated to the life of the bar. Every person who is part of the “family” of the Tiberi bar is a fun, tragic or simply good-hearted. So different from each other but constantly linked through that place full of chatter and laughter. Every person who goes through that bar has his favorite coffee and somehow it reflects his character. Like for example someone who is hypochondriac because he chooses decaffeinated or someone who often lives in a fantasy world and enjoys his life slowly with a nice hot cappuccino.
Now let me talk about “coffee Mina”. Ah .. for me the biggest gem of the book is this ginseng coffee that Massimo prepares for Mina to impress her.
“… Massimo then became serious, took a sachet of bitter soluble ginseng powder, poured the content into a slightly larger cup, a cross between a coffee cup and a cappuccino cup, then filled its half with boiling water and stirred it with a teaspoon until the powder was completely dissolved, then took the jug with soy milk and heated it, with slow movements, letting a large foam form on the surface which then he poured into the cup with the ginseng, almost to the edge. He dusted on a generous amount of cocoa powder and concluded with the addition of a whole sachet of cane sugar, being careful not to spill even a drop of that liquid artwork . “
A delicious idea, enclosed in an enjoyable novel, light and suitable for a vast and heterogeneous audience.
p.s. If you like recipes with coffee you should take a look at my World of coffee section.