I don't drink coffee. Ever. Mind you, I love the aroma of coffee and I use it quite often in pastry and dessert making but I never, ever drink it. So when I'm in Italy with my friends, and we're in a café and we're all standing al banco or at the bar, and they're tossing back espresso and looking cool, I want to be part of the fun too. So I order a Caffè Orzo.
Orzo, quite simply, is toasted barley, ground as finely as espresso and processed in the same manner as an espresso. It has the same dark, rich, deep mellow flavour of coffee without a caffeine kick. As with the best espresso, they should have a crema, or thin layer of creamy, rich foam that floats on the top.
Orzo reminds me a bit of Inka, a mixture of instant roasted barley, chicory and rye from Poland. I used to drink it as a teenager and now with Orzo espresso, I get to experience the grown up, sophisticated version.
You can also find Orzo in an instant, freeze dried version to have at home and to use in baking. I've tried quite a few and this one, Orzo Tostato Solubile Biologico is a very good one. You can buy it at health food shops in Italy.
So it's a delicious "win win." You get to enjoy a hot beverage and look cool like your friends at the same time. Try it macchiato and with sugar for a real treat.
What more could you want?