NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – On her first day working at the cafe she’d bought with her husband, Anna Agovino was nervous.
“I’d never made espresso. I’d never made a cappuccino in my life,” she said.READ MORE: Orient Country Store: A North Fork Family Grocery Counts On Community
But that changed quickly.
“In one day, I learned,” she said.
Over two decades later, she remains both the barista and the fiery personality behind La Casa del Caffe in the Morris Park section of The Bronx. Regulars say her espresso is the best in the city.
Her secret is a mixture of precision and heart.
“A clean machine, good coffee, and you have to love what you do,” she said.
An obsessive who drinks between 13 and 14 herself in a day, she says she can gauge an espresso’s quality by the look alone.
“When it’s too dark, it’s not good,” she said.
For her, the best espresso is medium-brown in color with a light foam on top.READ MORE: SOS Chefs: Obscure Ingredients For Curious Cooks At Atef Boulaabi's East Village Spice Store
A native of southern Italy, Agovino has fashioned her shop into a beacon for the neighborhood’s Italians.
“We try to be like Italy,” she said.
The shelves are lined with imported pastas and cookies, and the television plays Italian news and sports.
“Everything is Italian,” she said.
In the cafe’s early days, local newcomers often requested drip coffee. They instead received espresso and a lesson in Italian coffee culture.
“I say, ‘Yeah, this is the coffee. You want water? I’ll give you water.'”
Since then, many of those newcomers have become regulars, and the regulars have become friends.
“Everybody knows me. When I walk in the street, everybody says hi to me. I love it here,” Agovino said.
La Casa del Caffe
1036 Morris Park Avenue
The Bronx, NY 10461
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