If you're a Menotti's regular, then your morning cup is anything but routine. Each day a different Four Barrel roast is brewed, one that is selected, and often poured, by head barista Christopher Abel Alameda, better known as Nicely, world latte-art champ and one of our featured picks for best coffee in Venice.
One day you could sip Hunda Oli from Ethiopia, and the next, Andino Especial from Colombia. Nicely and his team decide which beans to brew each morning, and confidently stand behind their selections, certain that even if you're not a regular, when you do stop in, you'll leave happy.
The daily brew is part of a well-edited presentation. Menotti's Coffee Stop, only steps between the iconic Venice sign and Boardwalk, located in the historic Townhouse building, is all of maybe 500 square feet. There are a couple of chairs outside, and on the inside, two narrow standing counters lead to center stage – the coffee bar. Anchored by a turquoise La Marzocco espresso machine, there's just enough room for a few accoutrements: A coordinating mint green cake stand holds the day's pastry selection; there's a jar of fresh-baked granola; and a framed portrait of the coffee shop's namesake, Cesar Menotti, nods to the original Townhouse owner who converted the basement of his restaurant into a Prohibition speakeasy. And finally, there's a wooden clipboard featuring an agenda of Menotti's daily coffee selections.
When asked why he choose this approach, Nicely explains that it's twofold. There is so much great coffee to enjoy, obviously there should be new selections to try each day. He likens it to wine tasting. Brewed coffees are like wine, and espresso is like a distilled spirit. Each has its own charm and complexity, and also like fine wine and spirits, once you taste quality, you get it and there's no going back. However, he picks one per day because he believes that each should be appreciated on its own.
Nicely says that Teddy Roosevelt had a saying that he really likes: "Comparison is the thief of all joy," he quotes. Once you start to stack one up against the other, he explains, it's hard to appreciate what makes each unique and special.
So while there is just one special roast featured each day, Nicely – as the nickname promises – very kindly and humbly would love to expose more people to his passion, the joy of great coffee. And since not everyone is able to stop in each morning for the daily brew, he sets aside his no-comparison philosophy for a few hours each week to host free coffee tastings to anyone interested or who just happens to walk in at the right time.
Coffee tastings are held every Tuesday and Thursday in the shop at 4 p.m. Stop in for a sip and see why everyone's buzzing about Menotti's.