POSTED ON JULY 15, 2009:
Java the Hunt
Coffee spot takes a cue from the pros
Double Shot. Heidi admitted it takes several steps to make; the heat, humidity, temperature, beans and milk factor into making a fabulous cup of capp.
Coffee houses today are all the rage, having become common parlance as places to enjoy a fine cup of coffee. Not so. True coffee connoisseurs are like bloodhounds seeking the best of the best.
Heidi and Bryan Trent, owners of Dolce Vita, are very much the purists when it comes to coffee and its various concoctions. "We are very particular about what beans we use," she said. "We purchase beans from a master roaster in Tulsa each week."
She admitted they pay a higher price for them, but said, "We have high expectations for our coffee beans." They even use a grinder built in Milan, bringing authenticity to the process. "We pay a premium price for our beans, but we are not willing to compromise on this at all."
I know what she means. I affectionately recall the best cappuccino I ever had in a little café just outside St. Peter's Square in Rome, the Bar Prudenzi di Marcolina on via Delle Fornaci. The capp here was bold yet exquisitely smooth, with a rich, fresh coffee flavor and a creaminess unlike any other I have found. An elegant flower swirl design from the frothy milk blanketed the drink in classic Roman form.
It's unfair, I know, to draw such comparisons, yet it keeps me excited about seeking a splendid cappuccino. Dolce Vita comes close. Traditionally, cappuccino is served in a small ceramic cup and saucer. At Dolce Vita, four sizes are offered in American fashion: short ($2.80), tall ($3.40), grande ($3.75) and venti ($4.65). I went with a grande this time. My friend had a grande Hot Chocolate ($3.75). The cappuccino was very good, about three stars out of five. It was hot and the texture was thinner than what I prefer, yet the taste was robust and the smell heavenly. The frothy milk on top was creamy and quite impressive.
It's just something about the overall taste and presentation that makes Roman coffee so perfect and romantic. Much goes into this very simple yet complex drink. Heidi admitted it takes several steps; the heat, humidity, temperature, beans and milk factor into making a fabulous cup of capp. That's exactly it. The freshly roasted beans from Rome, the type of milk produced there and the high quality cappuccino machines--plus the barista--work together to produce some of coffee's best.
My friend's hot chocolate, topped with whipped cream, was perfect. It was rich and creamy, with a fine chocolate flavor.
I also sampled a hot coffee drink called Liquid Love ($2.65), which is espresso with honey and topped with frothy milk; this is served in only one size: a small demitasse espresso cup. It was a beautiful drink--a little taste of love in a cup. Customers can also buy the locally roasted coffee beans by the pound at Dolce Vita; I purchased a pound of Kenya Peaberry for $12. The bold and captivating smell of the freshly roasted beans was evident when opening the package; these beans brewed some of the best coffee.
A few other drinks of interest include the Steamer, steamed milk with special flavoring, such as vanilla or raspberry; London Fog, Earl Grey tea with steamed milk and honey; and Dirty Chai, aromatic chai tea with a shot of espresso.
The other part of Dolce Vita or "sweet life" is what Heidi enjoys the most: baking. She is the chef here, producing the coffee cakes and pastries in the upstairs level. "I want people to experience the sweet life at Dolce Vita," she said. Her experience in the craft goes back to when she was a child, growing up in Romania and Germany. She learned alongside her mother who often baked for parties of hundreds of people. The cakes are her mother's recipes that Heidi adjusted to fit the American ingredients (which are often different from the European ingredients).
"I do not bake in bulk," she said, adding that now since she has been open only for a few short months, she has already filled special orders from customers which usually require a 24- 48-hour advance notice. She proudly said that she uses no preservatives and only natural and organic ingredients. I sampled a slice of coffee cake ($1.95) and a slice of Mocha Cake ($4.65). The coffee cake was traditional: light, slightly dry, but very delicious with a cup of coffee. The Mocha Cake, Heidi said, is one of the favorites thus far. Rich and moist, it has three thin layers of chocolate cake with a slight coffee flavor. A light creamy chocolate icing covers the top, sides and layers of the cake.
Soon, Dolce Vita will offer sandwiches, both cold and paninis. She is "working on recipes" because she is striving for "the best quality of ingredients."
"People are looking for healthy stuff, and I want to do something to provide that quality for them. We want them to experience the taste and quality of our sandwiches."
Dolce Vita, located in front of SpiritBank Event Center, has free WiFi, custom-made espresso drinks, natural smoothies using the very popular Big Train product, hot and iced coffee drinks and tea. Heidi invites people to come and enjoy the "sweet life."
Dolce Vita Coffee and Cakes Coffee House
10425 S. 82nd E. Ave. #103, Bixby
Thursday-Saturday 7am-9pm (or later)
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