I love the noisette. It may be my new favorite coffee drink, in fact. While this drink is more or less unknown outside of France, you are more familiar with this drink than you realize. Let me explain.
In Italy a caffè macchiato is, very simply, an espresso topped with a dollop of foam. It’s the same size, more or less and the same intensity as a regular caffè. This is not my drink of choice in Italy, I want something a bit larger, something I can nurse for a bit more time. In America, however, I love the macchiato. It’s a good negotiation between a milky cappuccino and an too-potent for every day espresso. The macchiato at Joe is a beautiful thing, espresso and milk in a large espresso cup filled up to the top. It is, essentially, the noisette by any other name.
When I was in Paris, I saw the name listed alluringly next to cappuccino and café crème on menus. After wondering what this drink might be, my mother and I ordered one at Télescope. It was perfect. We ordered them the next day at La Cafeotheque and, if I had been in Paris for another day, I would have ordered one then as well. The noisette is small enough to not sit heavy in your stomach, but big enough to give you something to sip on. You can taste the coffee, but it’s not quite the heady espresso experience.
When drinking coffee at home, this is the drink I pretend to make. Give me a moka and an espresso cup and we’re in business. I make my coffee, warm up enough milk to fill up the remainder of the glass and combine them together to create a little hazelnut-colored drink. Maybe it’s the name, maybe it’s because it feels exotic, but I’m loving my faux-noisettes.
Coffee drink names may be laden in myth and lore, but that’s the beauty of them. I love the words that surround my daily ritual. In fact, it’s enough to make me want to enjoy having a café au lait or caffèlatte as well. They’re just words that help us explain our experience of coffee. Right now I’m enjoying my noisette. Or should I be calling it a nocciola?
Have you ever had a noisette? What’s your favorite name for a coffee drink?