Italian Coffee1 March 2009 in General
It is literally impossible to think of Italy without thinking about coffee. Coffee is not initially from Italy but coffee traditions did originate there. In the seventeenth century the first European coffeehouse was opened in Venice, which generated into over two hundred others. Coffee spread rapidly and more coffeehouses were established in the key cities of Italy. Some of these distinguished businesses are still in existence today.
Italian roast coffee is of a rich brown colour and the beans should have very little or no oil. Roasting time is dependent on the blend as Robusta beans should be roasted longer than Arabica blends. The coffee roaster must treat every batch being used with great care by not roasting too long or too hot. A roast that is darker does not necessarily mean a better espresso; therefore the roaster must keep an eye on the beans while they are being processed as they can burn very easily. Once the beans are roasted, leave to cool so they retain their flavour for the grinding and brewing process.
Coffee beans should be ground immediately prior to the brewing process to guarantee the freshest taste. Grinders that use grinding wheels, like those found in Italian bars, give you a more detailed grind. Italian coffee beans that are brewed at home are usually pre-ground and vacuum packed in tiny portions to assure its freshness. The grinding level is also dependent on the type of machine that is used to produce the coffee. Commercial espresso machines use an extremely fine grind that makes its own filter when under the elevated pressure of the brewing process. However there are several home brewing grinds that are moderately course.
Simply put, good beans make good coffee. However to make excellent coffee you have to know the art of blending and roasting beans properly. Italian coffees essentially use the Arabica assortment of coffee beans, which is known for its rich taste and low caffeine content. The coffee blends of the south are likely to have a more Robusta content in their blends which provides a stronger espresso.
Here are some popular coffees of Italy:
Espresso – Also known as Caffe in Italy and is served in a demitasse cup. It is rich in taste and has thick, creamy bronze foam called ‘crema’ on the surface.
Doppio – Double espresso.
Ristretto – More concentrated than a standard espresso that is prepared with less water.
Lungo or Caffe Americano – Espresso prepared with more water.
Macchiato – Espresso that is known by a touch of steamed milk on top.
Latte Macchiato – Steamed milk with a shot of espresso coffee.
Corretto – Espresso that is perfected with grappa, cognac or sambuca.
Cappuccino – Espresso that consists of equal amounts of steamed milk and foamed milk.
Cappuccino Scuro – Cappuccino made with less milk and is a darker in colour.
Cappuccino Chiaro – Lighter in colour and is prepared with more milk (less than a caffe latte).
Caffe Latte – Espresso prepared with more milk than a cappuccino and a small amount of foam.
From Trentino to Sicily, the day starts with a great cup of coffee. How Italian coffee is prepared is an art within itself, and has been handed down for generations. It is definitely an essential part of the Italians way of life.
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