I’m naming this sophisticated coffee-based, Averna-laced cocktail Torrefazione after a now defunct coffeehouse in Seattle, WA whose aim was to recreate the hustle and bustle of the classic Italian coffee-bar experience in North America.
Torrefazione is a name with plenty of Italian flare. So when I decided to make a coffee cocktail inspired by the coffeehouse it was easy to choose a bitter Italian amaro and a sweet Italian vermouth to compliment the cold-brewed coffee.
However, Torrefazione is more than a romantic sounding Italian name for a cocktail. At least in Seattle it is. Or I should say it was.
The first Torrefazione Italia café opened in 1986. It was a small business at first but it eventually grew to 17 cafés in at least 7 cities. Some credit the café for the coffee-craze that soon became associated with the Pacific-Northwest. But alas Torrefazione (as a café) is no more. It was acquired by Starbucks (2003) and shut down by Starbucks (2005).
I bring this tale to your attention not as a tale of corporate greed. I don’t know enough details to say for sure if any sort of greed was involved. I tell this tale because it’s a tale set in Seattle, and Seattle is a coffee drinking town.
How did Torrefazione Become a Cocktail?
Ken and I hold a once-a-fortnight ZOOM meeting with friends who live across the country. It’s a ZOOM meeting with a theme we call the Cocktail Challenge. Before every virtual meeting each team creates a cocktail and appetizer designed around a specific challenge. The very first challenge was a can of chickpeas. A cocktail and an appetizer made from a can of chickpeas. I wrote about that here. Other notable challenges include a favorite poem or the funk and fun of the 1970’s. You get the idea.
This week the challenge was to create cocktail and an appetizer inspired by the state (or province) where you were born (there’s a Canadian involved). Ken and I were born in different states so we split the challenge in two. The appetizer portion was inspired by Oklahoma – where I was born. We made BBQ Bison Sliders (bison is the state mammal of OK). I shared the recipe in my last post.
Ken was born in Seattle, WA. When it comes to beverages it’s easy to associate his city with the love of coffee. But coffee is merely an ingredient. Every good cocktail deserves an intriguing name. Ken recalled the tale of the short-lived Torrefazione Italia café. The Italian influence led us to amaro and sweet vermouth and the Torrefazione Cocktail was born. GREG
I love this, Greg! Of course, the hot coffee cocktail has been around forever (and I have to confess, I’ve never liked it). But a cold brew cocktail — what an inspiration!
Love the way to create recipe on Zoom Meeting Challenge. Nice Pic and Lovely recipe to end such a nice article.
Looks delicioso, Gregorio!
The hard part will be tearing the Averna bottle out of Mark’s hands. He loves it after dinner and, after all, I did give it to him as a gift, so I can’t complain that he wants control of it. But I will try — this sounds fantastic!
Your fortnight ‘get-togethers’ sound wonderful, we just love themed events. Personally, I love to see how people interpret the theme, it’s always a big surprise.
The cocktail is beautiful, coffee anything is always a hit for me. It is unfortunate that Starbucks killed that wonderful sounding cafe, but I’m sure the owners were well compensated.
What a fun group you are involved with. I love your themes. Your coffee drink sounds so interesting, I would love to try it.
Great story! I do imagine there was some greed with Starbuck’s, or just a smart business decision, but still sad. Italian coffee really does stand out, and I take my coffee seriously. The drink is interesting. You’re right — coffee is also an ingredient. I don’t enjoy amaro but then you’ve also sweetened it. How long did you live in OK?