I managed to read one book while I was away last week, a frothy little mystery that proved quite entertaining. On What Grounds, set in the Village Blend, a historic coffeehouse in Greenich Village, pits barista Clare Cosi against an evil intruder who attacks her young assistant and has the gall to leave no clues behind, leading the (extremely handsome) police detective in charge to deem the affair a mere accident. Clare is having no part of this decision, and embarks upon her own investigation, with the assistance of her (equally handsome) ex-husband, Matteo Allegro. The two make a formidable pair, and all kinds of sparks fly between them in the course of solving this mystery.
Now, I usually shy away from these kinds of procedural mysteries, but this one appealed to me because I adore coffeehouses, and the atmosphere in the Village Blend is terribly enticing. It was “situated on a quiet corner of Hudson Street, in the first two floors of a four-story red brick townhouse, sending the rich, earthy aroma of freshly brewed coffee into the winding lanes of Greenich Village for over one hundred years.” Clare herself is a passionate coffee lover, and describes the process of creating her favorite brew in exquisite detail.
“When I make an espresso,” Clare tells her readers, “I slow the extraction process by using a finer grind and a very packed filter holder cup. That way the espresso oozes out of the portafilter like warm honey (as it should) instead of gushing out like water. A quality espresso should consist entirely of rich, reddish-brown creama as it flows easily out of the portafilter spout. Creama, or coffee foam, is the single most important thing to look for in a well-made espresso. It tells you the oils in ground coffee have been extracted and suspended in the liquid – the thing that makes espresso, espresso.”
Can’t you smell that delectable aroma and hear the hiss of the frothing machine?
On What Grounds is the first volume in a series of Coffeehouse Mysteries by Cleo Coyle, and it really was just the ticket for light reading whilst on vacation.
by Cleo Coyle
published in 2003, by Berkley Publishing, The Penguin Group