Coffee! The Italian way of life
Since the 1600’s coffee and the Italian culture have always been paralleled with one another. It is an important part of daily life which is enjoyed by all. You are always bound to see passion and pride shining through the barristers across Italy, trying to serve the perfect coffee every time.
Coffee or as the Italians call it Caffe’ is culture! It is found in every town, neighbourhood, village and household within Italy. There are thousands of coffee bars which vary from complex and lavish to simple and sparse. Coffee is the building blocks for communities to grow and relationships to form.
On average Italians make two to three espresso’s per day often, inviting a friend or work colleague to share it with. According to Luciano De Crescenzo, novelist and expert in Neapolitan social customs, it is not uncommon for a contented patron to pay for two cups of espresso when he gets to the cashier—one for himself and one as an offering to humanity, or to the guy lucky enough to be next in line.
The passion of coffee stems from the historical root of all Italian foods – good taste. It was common for all within the community to be on the pursuit for the perfect cup of coffee. This lead to the invention of the espresso machine which transformed the world of coffee.
Enrico Maltoni, owner of the biggest group of Italian espresso machines in the world states that the first Italian espresso machine was registered in the Milan copyright office in 1901 by Luigi Bezzera. The apparatus had a giant, columnar figure and was powered by steam. Throughout the 20th century, design-savvy and technically intelligent Italians made continuous developments to the machine.
In Italy Caffe’ generally refers to a classic black espresso which is served hot in a demitasse. There are those who also order caffe’ ristretto which is a dense espresso made with less water. For those who find coffee too bitter prefer to add a dash or milk, which is called a caffe’ macchiato.
Just like all things Italian, coffee varies from region to region. In north-eastern Italy you are expected to be served a caffè corretto, a boozy espresso with about two teaspoons of grappa. In Friuli, alcohol consumption is so common that to get a ‘classic’ espresso, you have to ask explicitly for a caffè lisco, or a straight espresso.
There is, still, one rule that holds true throughout the whole of Italy which is that a cappuccino is only a breakfast drink. No Italian would be caught dead drinking a cup of hot milk with a dash of coffee anytime after the mid-day meal.