A Love Affair with Coffee – Making the Perfect Cappuccino for Sandra Every Morning


Happy National Husbands Day!


I’m Sandra’s husband Phil, and in honor of this special day, I am taking over her blog! I’m sharing what I believe is “The Marriage Game-Changer”…….. 


First some history:


Back in the mid nineties I had given up on coffee. The acidity had finally gotten to me and it made me jittery- which as it turns out was pretty common. I found out it was from leaching the husk of the beans with hot water over prolonged time that caused this effect. 


When we moved to Zürich, Switzerland in ‘95 the coffee had so much flavor, and not any of the acidity which I was accustomed to. I discovered they were drinking espresso drinks, that were long or short and then you added milk to top it off. 

Being in Central Europe we planned to visit Italy, which was only a 2.5 hour ride away. We landed at the lakeside city of Como. We didn’t know where to stay so we parked our car for 2,000 lire ($1.15) and walked around and found a great little hotel called “Albergo Firenze”. The next morning they explained that the breakfast was included and was traditional Euro buffet- style. When we sat down a staff member came over and took our coffee order….”due cappuccini, grazie .”

She brought them out to our table and the love affair began. We ordered two more and then couldn’t stop coming back. (We still go back!)

Returning to Zürich our mission was to recreate the magic – we bought a Jura machine, researched and bought good beans and made our own. No, it was not as good as Italy, but good nonetheless! 

When we moved back to the states our machine didn’t work due to power compatibility. We ended up getting a Gaggia, then we graduated to a la Pavoni commercial machine that was plumbed into our home (never again) in Menlo Park, Ca. Eventually we sold that house to move back east, and the machine went with the sale. 

Now an official coffee geek, I became the barista of the Cavallo house. I get up every morning and practice my “art.” I found my niche with Chris’ Coffee- Albany, NY, and after a lot of research we ended up getting an Andreja Premium (QuickMill) machine with a Mazzer Mini grinder. It made great coffee for years, we moved that machine to our second home in Vermont and got the la Marzocco which you see in the kitchen today. 

The very first cup of cappuccino from our new machine brought us all the way back to Albergo Firenze. Wow! We had finally recreated that taste from the pantheon of coffee, it was amazing!!


We followed all of the proper techniques, sourced our beans from Espresso Vivace in Seattle, who are the best, and voila!


(All photos: Courtesy of Matthew Mead @matthewmeadstyle) 


Today, almost 25 years later, Sandra says the only reason we’re still married is because I make her a cappuccino every morning…. I believe it’s the love that goes into it, and the history it represents. 





Details for the perfect cup of coffee:


LaMarzocco GS-3 (professional machine)
Mazzer Mini Grinder
Espresso Vivace beans
Whole milk
Motta milk pitcher 
21 second extraction time
Steamed milk to 140deg F


Many of these items can be found on Sandra’s

Old Silver Shed Amazon page – http://www.amazon.com/shop/oldsilvershed



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