Italians are very passionate about coffee and there are even strict rules about consuming this amazing drink.
Most of the world’s coffee today comes from either South America or Indonesia. It was not until the 16th century that the introduction of coffee to Europe took place. Coffee arrived from the Middle East with the first coffeehouses being established in Istanbul. Venice, which relied heavily upon trade with the Muslim east, was first introduced to the drink in the 1570’s. However coffee would remain a luxury item at this time and not drunk for refreshment, but as a medicinal drink.
With over two hundred coffee houses along canals of Venice, the reputation of the drink soon spread to the neighbouring cities of Verona, Milan and Turin. Elegant new coffee houses were built and some of these original houses still remain to this day. Turin’s oldest surviving coffee house opened in 1763.
Coffee consumption soon spread to Rome and the rest of the peninsula, with imports arriving at the ports in Naples, Bari and Sicily. The spread nationwide escalated and it wasn’t long before every household in Italy became familiar with the drink, eventually evolving in a culture that is still relevant today.
When it comes to coffee everything is important – beans, roast, way of brewing and the person who make it. Unlike French roast coffees, which are dark and very oily, Italian roast coffee is a rich brown color and should have very little or no oil on the beans. Roasting time depends upon the blend as Robusta beans need to be roasted longer than Arabica blends. Once perfectly roasted the beans are allowed to air cool, this allows the beans to retain their flavor until they are ground for brewing.
Grinding of the beans should be done immediately before brewing to ensure the freshest flavor. Grinders that use grinding wheels as opposed to a grinding blade are preferred since they allow for a more thorough grind.
For coffee made for home brewing, the beans are often pre-ground and then vacuum-sealed in small portions to ensure freshness. The grinding level also depends upon what kind of machine is being used to make the coffee. Commercial espresso machines use a very fine grind that creates its own filter when under the high pressure of the brew cycle.