It takes very little nudging to get a Kosovar to brag about the nation’s prowess in brewing the perfect macchiato.
“No matter where you go in Kosovo, you will find a macchiato made much better than the Italians,” my waiter, Armend Bytyqi, tells me while I dine at the Hotel Carshia e Jupave in the town of Gjakova.
“Italians make just milk and coffee. We boil the milk, and we make a cream on top of the milk,” Bytyqi said.
My guide, Petrit Riza of Air Tour, glanced sideways at me as if I were a crazy person when I questioned why they consider their frothy drink to be superior to those made in Italy.
“Italians invented the macchiato. What do you have on them?” I ask.
Riza scoffs. “It’s our creativity,” he tells me. “Our macchiato is simply perfect. We have the perfect froth. We do the froth with the espresso machine.”
Espresso machines are big business in this Western Balkans country. They’re everywhere. You can order a macchiato almost anywhere you go in Kosovo: a roadside greasy spoon, a gas station. And they’re cheap, typically less than a single euro for one cup. Compare that to more than $4 at Starbucks.
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