An essential guide to Italian coffee culture

The coffee culture has ancient origins, but still mysterious. It seems to have started almost simultaneously around the fifteenth century between Ethiopia, Persia and Yemen. In 1570 a well-known botanist and physician, Prospero Alpino, brought some bags of coffee from the Orient to Venice. In 1720 in Piazza San Marco in Venice Mr. Floriano Francesconi opened Caffè Florian, the oldest café in the world, originally called Alla Venezia trionfante (to Venice Triumphant). Caffè Florian was frequented by famous people such as Giacomo Casanova, Gasparo Gozzi, Giuseppe Parini, Silvio Pellico, Lord Byron, Ugo Foscolo, Charles Dickens, Goethe, Rousseau, Gabriele d’Annunzio.

Venice, Caffè Florian
Venice, Caffè Florian

In 1790 the first coffee roaster was built in Rovereto. The success of this drink was immediate. Filtered, made with the Moka pot or the classic Neapolitan flip coffee pot or with espresso machine, coffee has become one of the symbols of Made in Italy and one of the favorite pleasures of the Italians. The secret of the intense aroma and of the velvety taste of Italian coffee is the wisdom of Italian coffee roasters, representing the handmade excellence in coffee processing. In fact, the aroma and the taste of authentic Italian coffee is due to the Italian roasting method, so-called “intense”. The roasting “clear” is typical of the Anglo-Saxon countries, the “dark” one is widespread especially in Mediterranean countries. The Italian roasting really like because it makes coffee less acidic and with more antioxidant power.

Types of coffee in Italy:

Espresso in Northern Italy: it contains a fair amount of caffeine. It’s fragrant, slightly acidic with a lingering flavor of dark chocolate. The mixture is Arabica and Robusta 20-30%.

Espresso in Southern Italy: it has an extremely high intensity and leaves a feeling of sweetness. Because of this, it’s served with a glass of water. It contains a high percentage of Robusta blend. It’s usually served in boiling cup with powdered sugar.

Caffè Lungo (long coffee): widespread throughout Italy. It ‘s prepared by adding boiling water to a strong espresso.

Americano (American coffee): it’s the least-bodied coffee. The mixture is made with Arabica and contains a lot of caffeine. It ‘s more widespread in Northern Italy.

Cappuccino: Italians like to have breakfast at the bar with cappuccino and a croissant with jam, cream or chocolate. Cappuccino is a combination of espresso, milk and milk cream in equal parts. It has a delicate flavor and it’s served in a cup of medium size.

Caffè macchiato: espresso with a drop of hot or cold milk.

Moka Coffee: it’s so named, because it’s made with Moka pot invented by Luigi De Ponti and Alfonso Bialetti in 1933. Every Italian family owns several Moka coffee pots of various sizes.

Moka pot
Moka pot

Neapolitans instead use the Neapolitan flip coffee pot.

 Neapolitan flip coffee pot
Neapolitan flip coffee pot

In Italy drinking coffee is a daily ritual suitable for any time of the day: at breakfast, after meals, in a break at work, or sitting at a table in a bar, chatting with friends. Coffee is part of everyday life of all Italians.

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