A pleasant, sacred occasion, coffee provides a moment of calm in a busy world: a space where people can pause to think, chat, and oftentimes create.
The coffee break, now an indispensable daily habit, is an important ritual that brings people together and promotes socialization, particularly in office and school environments.
Coffee is an integral part of Italian culture. Studies show that Italians consume an average of 5.6 kg per capita per year and that approximately 8 million bags of coffee are imported into Italy every year.
With the invention of the espresso and moka preparation methods, the way of drinking and preparing coffee in Italy was completely revolutionized.
While the espresso machine is the most common preparation method in bars, restaurants and workplaces throughout Italy, as it was designed to reduce the time needed to prepare coffee in public places, most Italians prefer to use the moka coffee maker at home.
For most, if not all Italians, an espresso is something sacred. If one simply orders a “coffee” while in Italy, an espresso is served.
The term “espresso” is synonymous with “made on the spot”. This beverage, often served in a small espresso cup, is drunk in a few seconds in two to three sips. In Italy, espressos are enjoyed throughout the day, to take a short break, usually at the bar counter or directly at the coffee machine.
Another popular and beloved coffee preparation in Italy is the cappuccino, which is traditionally enjoyed at breakfast time, usually accompanied by a pastry, such as a croissant.
While in Germany, Austria and The Netherlands, a medium roast is preferred, the French, Spanish and Italians prefer a full roast.
Roasting is the process of heating raw coffee beans to release their body, flavour and aroma. During this process, the beans take on their characteristic brown colour, decrease in weight, increase in volume, lose humidity and, above all, acquire an aroma. The result is a coffee blend that expresses all of its sensorial properties.
Coffee roasting often requires a very long time and can be quite tricky. When trying to find the roasting sweet spot, it is always best to consider that lower temperatures tend to accentuate sour tastes in coffee, and higher temperatures accentuate bitter tastes. Arabica coffee, for instance, which accounts for two-thirds of the world’s coffee production, is often a medium roast blend rich in aroma, sweet and slightly acidic.
Italy’s extensive research on the subject of coffee as well as its extraordinary collection of recipes and vast preparation methods have placed this European country on the map as one of the most important and influential coffee nations in the world.
That being said, given that most of the country does not have the correct growing conditions for the coffee plant and cultivating it in most regions would be quite costly, with a few rare exceptions, coffee beans are neither grown nor harvested in Italy.
However, despite this, it is the Italian coffee culture that has elevated this raw product into what it is today: one of the world’s most popular beverages.