The Perfect Cappuccino
Filmmaker Amy Ferraris is obsessed. Having first discovered the cappuccino on a trip to Italy in the early 90's, she comes back to American plagued by one seemingly unanswerable question: in the country that put a man on the moon, why is it so hard to find a decent cappuccino? Her attempt to answer this question takes her on a years-long odyssey... to Italy and back again... from Manhattan to middle America... and it gives her a front-row seat for a clash between corporate America and the individualism at the heart of the American dream. Part memoir and part investigation, THE PERFECT CAPPUCCINO is a smart, witty meditation on what our coffee habits say about us, as individuals and as a nation.
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I liked the background on Italy, and the baristas there. They are proud of their work. I liked the focus on DoubleShot Coffee Compay, and how he represented David vs Goliath. But I also like Starbucks, and I don't consider them evil. The documentary didn't present them as evil, but did show how they have corporatized coffee.
Overall, this is a passionate look at espresso and mostly cappuccino. I found the whole movie interesting.
My primary gripe is the hyperbolic quest for not a perfect cappuccino, but apparently the difficulty in obtaining a non-gross cappuccino. I think I pretty much only darken the door of Starbucks annually for my free birthday drink, but even in the featured state of Oklahoma, an excellent indie cappuccino is easily gettable. The timing is just a bit off, but in the year this film debuted, two just excellent, passionate independent roasters opened in OKC that make a cappuccino that seems perfect enough to me. At the time Amy was in Tulsa, I think she would probably have been happy enough with a roaster an hour West in Stillwater. Even Guthrie has a great indie roaster...how many more am I unaware of?
Also...I want to see a deleted scene or something featuring a meetup with our conservative Tulsa roaster and the hammer and sickle roasters from the Bay...that’d be a treat...five minutes of coffee love then let the shouting begin.
This little documentary style film balances humor, disappointment, resignation, and a persistent trek to discovery on the edge of specialty coffee's table. The narrative ranges from quirky-funny to pointed journalist. The interviews were superb and covered far more of the players of the specialty coffee industry than I would have imagined giving a great balance of views on American coffee culture and a bit of where the modern incarnation of it has come from. While this teeters on the edge of vilifying Starbucks, I feel the filmmaker recovers through narrative introspection about American corporate values and the legal framework relatively few people get to see. While Starbucks is in large part the push for Ferraris' disgust for America's version of the cappuccino and spokespeople vehemently against the corporate giant are given ample face time, she takes a good look into why they have been so successful and why they do some of the things that have led folks to believe they are evil squashers of small businesses.
This little film is a gem that belongs on the shelves of any coffee enthusiast. The side interviews are almost worth the price of the DVD as a whole.
The next 30 minutes or so went back to the United States and complained that Starbucks cappuccino was really bad. This was probably right. But, why was this so long in a movie that was searching for the perfect cappuccino. Boring and irrelevant.
Then there was some 15 minutes devoted to good cappuccino in the United States at a place called DoubleShot. But this morped into a drama about how this little shop in the middle of the United States was being sued by Starbucks because of their copyright on the name "Starbucks cappuccino. A human interest story but boring again if you were looking to find out how to produce and find "The Perfect Cappuccino".
After a good start, there was very little time spent on the science and art of espresso / cappuccino.
The extras were interesting if you were interested in a description of the strategy needed to succeed at barista competitions. Again, we have to ask: "where was the coffee?"
I just took a better look at the "extras" on coffee roasting and brewing.
The "extras" are more interesting than the movie and are worth 4 or 5 stars.
Definitely watch the roasting one that contrasts the very traditional Italian roaster who works with a wood burning roaster and describes the cracking stages as the "singing" of the coffee with the American Doubleshot roaster in Tulsa who is a modern craftsman trying to get the best out of the beans.