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Expert Testimony: Coffee Talk

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Essential to any café latino is a dark Italian roast, says Douglas Rodriguez, executive chef at Chicama, the South American canteen inside ABC Carpet & Home. "Latin coffee isn't as pure and caffeinated as Arabica roast, which is what's in premium American coffee, because Italian-roast beans are cooked longer," explains the former top chef of Patria, the city's original mecca for Nuevo Latino cuisine. But café con leche may be an acquired taste for those stuck on skinny lattes and frothy cappuccinos; it requires whole milk ("the more fat, the better") that's heated, not steamed. "You don't want any foam at all, just warm milk and coffee," says Rodriguez. At work, Rodriguez makes his own, but for a more leisurely coffee break, he heads uptown to Café con Leche (726 Amsterdam Avenue, near 95th Street; 212-678-7000). The java is among the city's best, he insists. And befitting such a no-nonsense beverage, the coffee, at $1.50, is as easy on the wallet as it is on the palate.


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