On Friday, we made a pilgrimage to Fano, the beach town next to Pesaro, to visit a Pascucci coffee shop. Yesterday, we went to the source: Monte Cerignone. Pascucci is a local coffee brand that is served in many of the cafés in Le Marche province, and it’s one of my favorites. In 1935, Mario Pascucci opened the first family shop in Monte Cerignone, about 40 km west of Pesaro. Ever since, Pascucci has been one of the most popular brands in the region and it’s distributed to many of the cafés in Pesaro. I prefer it to other local coffees because I think it has a richer, smoother flavor.
We visited Fano because I wanted to buy coffee from a Pascucci distributor so I could compare a homemade cappuccino to that of the cafés. The odds are stacked against me—I’m going against years of professional barista experience and high-quality machinery—but I was a barista at a bakery one summer during college. I’ll have to test out my skills this week.
So, I ordered a cappuccino at the Pascucci shop and, ironically, it wasn’t the best. The coffee tasted slightly burnt and the foam was too foamy—a problem I notice frequently in the U.S. It could also have been that I was drinking a cappuccino after 10:30 a.m., an unspoken “no no” in Italian culture. Tourists order cappuccinos at any time of day, but most Italians don’t. Cappuccinos are for breakfast and espressos are for the afternoon, most likely because cappuccinos, with their thick, frothy milk, are heavier. It’s true that cappuccinos I’ve drunk in the afternoon never taste as good. My husband thinks that it’s because the baristas who work the morning shift are more experienced (they make probably a hundred cappuccinos a day—and quickly, too!) than the afternoon baristas, who specialize in aperitivi. But, I was on a particular mission and felt I had to try one. I still decided to buy some ground coffee—I’d rather buy the beans to preserve the freshness but we don’t have a coffee grinder. I also bought some Pascucci-brand cappuccino and espresso cups (hey, I need a few mementos from my stay here).
Yesterday, we drove to Monte Cerignone, the birthplace of the first Pascucci production plant. The plant is still located there because the climate stabilizes the moisture of the raw coffee. Monte Cerignone is a lovely hill town that boasts a fortress built by the Malatesta family and a sanctuary dedicated to Beato Domenico Spadafora, or, Blessed Dominic. Like many sanctuaries, Domenico’s bones are still located in the church and a prayer log is kept for visitors who write to Domenico and pray to his bones. We also visited San Biagio, the main church in the town. Alex has recently realized how loud he can sing—or screech—and discovered that the church had excellent acoustics. When we left the church, two elderly ladies were standing outside, waiting to see who was making all that noise. They couldn’t stop playing with Alex—amazed, as everyone seems to be, by the amount of hair he has.
Before we left Monte Cerignone, we went to the only café in town, which of course served Pascucci coffee. This time the trip was worth it. We ordered espresso and it was dark and flavorful, the beans perfectly roasted. My first coffee pilgrimage was a success.