Tuesday, January 28th, 2003.
I traveled to the legendary Caffe Trieste located at 1000 Bridgeway
in Sausalito California. My goal was to taste their coffee and evaluate
the La San Macro Espresso Machines. The Barista observed that I
was interested in the espresso machines and asked if I had any questions
regarding the machines. I asked him about the La San Marco 85/16
model. The barista said he never used this model but informed me
that I was lucky as the founder of Caffe Trieste happened to be
at his store. He summoned the owner and I was introduced to Giovanni
Giotta, known to most as "Papa Johnny."
I told Papa Johnny that I had purchased a used 85/16 for a cafe.
He said that the 85/16 was a great machine, and he highly recommended
it for a coffee shop. He had a few question about the size of my
Cafe and said that the two group model should be fine. He then gave
me the number of his repair technician and said to drop off the
machine and they would check its condition. Caffee Trieste is the
official importer for LA San Macro in California and Nevada.
Papa Johnny asked if I had tried his coffee yet and I said "Not
yet, but I plan to." With the snap of a finger he had the Barista
make a perfect cappuccino. I commented that the milk was frothed
perfect. We sat at a table and he informed me that his staff has
been trained in the art of preparing espresso drinks. He also shared
that one of the StarBucks founders came to him to learn the proper
technique on how to make a cappuccino. He then offered to teach
me. I accepted his offer and agreed to set up a time when I had
a few hours available for training. His philosophy for preparing
his espresso is, "Buy the best beans, roast them yourself, and brew
each cup like it's for you."
We talked for over an hour about his experience in the coffee business.
Papa Johnny's eyes lit up as he talked about his business. He said
that he had been in the business since 1957. He is truly "the Espresso
Pioneer of the West Coast."
Papa Johnny with a cup of cappuccino
in his Sausalito Caffe.
At his store in San Francisco, he actually sings to entertain his
patrons. He invited me to visit his San Francisco location and said
his family would be at the Caffe on Saturdays at 2:30 PM, which
is when the singing starts. If you are looking for old world charm,
this is it!
Over the years, Caffe Trieste has had many famous patrons, including
Bill Cosby and Francis Ford Coppola. He stated that Coppala spent
six months at his cafe in San Francisco writing "The God Father."
I am sure the Italian surroundings helped set the tone for the book.
Papa Johnny is an Italian immigrant, the son of a fisherman. He
came to the United States in the 50's. He will be celebrating his
63rd wedding anniversary this year. He is in the process of writing
his biography which should prove to be very interesting.
I highly recommend that if you are in the bay area, you treat yourself
to a Caffe Trieste cappuccino.