What would our "shoot-I'm-late-again" mornings and afternoon slumps be without a cup of coffee?! We don't even want to think about it. And, we guess, we're not alone when we say this because aromatic cuppa joe is only the second most traded commodity in the world - well, that says it all! However, when we praise a morning joe, please don't get us wrong - coffee is not a shortcut to the energy boost; it's more like a lifestyle choice steeped deep down in our personality. Reading this, coffee enthusiasts probably shook their heads in agreement; they get what we are talking about. Despite the unwavering love we've got for coffee, replicating a barista-quality pristine cuppa is not something that comes naturally to most of us, even with all the latest coffee-makers, cold-brew shortcuts, or other accessories. Well, by lucky chance, and after quite a bit of historical research, we've cracked the code - for a perfect cuppa, it's legendary Italian coffee you should call!
Along with unmatched cultural heritage, the finest wine, and widely celebrated pasta, the boot peninsula is known for its centuries-old coffee-making traditions. We're not afraid to go as far as to claim that Italy is the true birthplace of modern coffee as we know it and enjoy it. That's where coffee was brought to its acme, and we have all the proof we need. Visiting gorgeous Italy means falling in love with coffee, gelato, and authentic Neapolitan pizza; that's a general rule. And, if you've ever been to Italy, you've probably seen with your own eyes how they have democratized aromatic coffee. It's everywhere at any time at any price. There's no quick breakfast without a caffe latte or a work lunch without a cup of Italian espresso, and even settling in for the night has its coffee delight. To paint the picture in its true colors, we're determined to take you back to the humble beginnings of Italian coffee, tell you all about how it was born, and how the country became a true powerhouse of coffee culture! So, brew yourself a cuppa if you've not had any yet, and let's take a walk down memory lane.
How Italian Coffee Was Born
Quite unexpectedly, Italian coffee is a rare case in food history, when we know the precise date it came about - in 1570, the first-ever coffee beans were brought back from the East in Venice. Not only in Italy, but it was one of the first European coffee imports in history! For its looks and enchanting aroma, coffee was deemed a noble, luxurious drink, at first only sold in pharmacies. However, after hundreds of coffee shops popped up in Venice, breaking social boundaries by letting women freely discuss myriads of ideas over a cuppa, quickly enough, coffee became a ubiquitous drink. It took the rest of the country by storm too. Italian coffee became a part of the hospitality custom, carrying a sense of conviviality since it was mainly enjoyed with friends and family over cozy dinners, date nights, or simple get-together parties. But all of that came only after Pope Clement VIII baptized the drink - yep, you read that right. Before that, aromatic cuppa joe was deemed "satan's bitter drink" for reasons unknown to us, Italian coffee lovers. However, when the pope took a sip, it turned out he loved it so much that he thought "it would be a pity to let the infidels have exclusive use of it" - his words, not ours. So, after coffee's "baptism," coffee was freely enjoyed all over Italy! With more than four centuries of coffee culture, the aromatic drink has become synonymous with moments of joy and serenity. No wonder why it's never missing from a typical Italian grocery list, right?
Italians make coffee like no other; they even have devised the special etiquette to follow rigorously - il galateo del caffè, to get the best of their signature drink. And, keep in mind, there's no such thing as Venti Crème Frappuccino in Italy. In lieu of Starbucks fashion, Italian coffee is consumed in small quantities; coffee shops usually serve you at the bar with a petite shot of espresso! So if you want to enjoy Italian coffee in true Italian style, let's get down to the nitty-gritty of coffee etiquette - get a pen and paper, and let's get studying.
Rule #1: Breakfast usually calls for an exceedingly milky cuppa because it's more filling but lighter on the palate. To pair your delicious pastry like a true Italian, you have three famous choices: Latte Macchiato, creamy cappuccino, and, lastly, classic Caffe Latte, in order from highest to lowest espresso content. As a general rule, milk coffee is only enjoyed and better digested with breakfast, so ordering a cup of Italian cappuccino after 12 might get you a couple of judgemental looks thrown your way. But you're a king of your own house, so, you do, however you please, we won't judge!
Rule #2: don't look startled if you're served a glass of water along with your genuinely Italian coffee. It's there to refresh your palate and help you appreciate the depth of your blend. Simply take a couple of sips, and when you think your canvas is blank enough, move on to your cuppa.
Rule #3: there's no such thing as too much coffee in Italy when you know your way around. While breakfast cuppa is the ultimate energy boost, post-lunch espresso is the perfect help to digestion. It might come as a shocking surprise, but it's true, there's a pausa Caffe, too - a designated Italian coffee to combat afternoon slumps! So, if you schedule your coffee right, you're bound to get the most out of your aromatic blends.
Meet the Best Italian Coffee Types
You probably already know some of the superstars of Italian coffee, like bitter and eccentric espresso or perfectly creamy cappuccino - those two are the ABC of the Italian coffee vocabulary. And, even though we are confident that you're more than familiar with them, sometimes you miss out on the nuances, capable of making your coffee indulging even more pleasant. So, we've taken on the mission of introducing and telling you more about the best Italian coffee types, according to us!
Espresso - It's the ultimate favorite of Italians. If you go to a local coffee bar (and, yes, we mean a bar) and ask for a coffee without specifying other details of your order, you're going to end up with a shot of espresso. Well, lucky you, cause what's there not to love about espresso, right? And if you're more on the latte side or have not gotten yourself a pleasantly creamy energy boost ever, you'll spot espresso coffee in a crowd with an exquisite crema hat on top. The natural coffee oil forms an airy, delicate layer of creamy goodness that makes authentic Italian espresso coffee stand out from the crowd of doppelgängers. The perfect shot of espresso coffee is only 0.24 oz (7 gr), which yields nearly an ounce of liquid goodness.
Espresso coffee is the cornerstone of Italian coffee culture; it's the sole reason why the boot peninsula emerged as the leader of the worldwide coffee market. And, we all have to thank Luigi Bezzera, the man who came up with a mechanism to make the brewing process quicker with a steam-based coffee machine. And, to put things into perspective, before Bezzera, coffee was made by steeping ground beans into boiling water. Trust us; it was much more time-consuming than we just made it sound like. As for the moniker, espresso coffee accurately denotes the way it's prepared - espresso means "pressed coffee ." But, we have to be honest here - espresso does sound way too similar to express, as in expressly made coffee, right?
Cappuccino - second to espresso coffee, this milky cuppa is one of the most famous Italian coffee types. It's usually made with equal parts of espresso and steamed milk and equally frothy crema on top. Some say the name was inspired by the ale brown robes of Capuchin friars, but who knows for sure? According to coffee historians, cappuccino, or the pioneer sweet milky coffee, might be dated back to the 18th century, Vienna. So, for a long time, Italy was fascinated with Viennese-style cuppa joe, which was served with a thick layer of whipped cream and cinnamon shavings on top. However, the Italian cappuccino was first made in the early 19th century, right after Bezzera's creation, became easily transportable - the first ever espresso machine was as bulky as one could imagine.
Caffè Latte - now this milky delight might be the pickiest drinker-approved since it's more delicate on the palate and the depth of coffee is neutralized. As a general rule, a proper Italian latte would combine ⅓ of double shots of espresso with ⅔ steamed milk, with a thinner creamy layer. Weirdly enough, the first to mention caffe latte was William Dean Howells in his essay. So, we can assume Americans coined the term for a beloved caffe latte, as commercially prepared breakfast cuppa joe. So, we might be breaking our own rules by including it in our list of the best Italian coffee types, but, hey, that's what some rules are for, right?
Macchiato - if you want to get the most out of coffee magic without compromising luscious flavors, then macchiato is for you. This espresso drink is usually only foamed with milk, so it has the least amount of milk from the last two. In other words, a macchiato is just espresso with a dab of milk! Some say it was born out of sheer accident - baristas, trying to show the difference between pure espresso and milky coffee to servers, used to dab a cuppa with just a splash of milk, and, well, we guess they give exhibit B a taste, too, and fell in love!
Our Favorite Italian Coffee Brands to Try
Italy is home to millions of coffee enthusiasts, in love with an aromatic cuppa so much that they might even make growing coffee beans on the boot peninsula possible. While it may lack home-grown arabica, the country makes up with the finest quality sourced beans and know-how in blending and roasting the most aromatic coffee. So, choosing the best Italian coffee is a challenging task no newbie can take on alone. And, don't worry, that's exactly why we are here. In our enchantingly aromatic collection of Italian coffee, you're bound to discover your new favorite morning cuppa. But, to make things easier for you, here are (only some of) our best Italian coffee brands you should look forward to tasting.
Illy - born in 1933, Illy has become one of the most recognized names, whether Italian coffee lover or not. Francesco Illy, the company's founder, is responsible for revolutionizing traditional espresso machines, creating smaller and more effective pressurization mechanisms for creating the perfect cuppa. As a general rule, Illy uses premium quality Arabica beans blends to deliver delicate flavors and a well-rounded overall flavor mood, catering to everyone - coffee lovers and even nay-sayers, too!
Lavazza Coffee is the ultimate leader of the Italian and international coffee market. With more than 120 years of experience under its belt, Lavazza was created by the coffee genius Luigi Lavazza. In 1895, he found the fondness of coffee, and over generations, his family has done a terrific job of honoring his flair. Lavazza has become synonymous with the delicious intensity and authenticity of Italian coffee by providing millions worldwide with one of the best espresso, French press, and, of course, Moka pots on the market.
Kimbo - nearly for 60 years now, Kimbo has been treating millions of loyal customers worldwide with traditional Neapolitan coffee flavors crafted using only the latest technology. The passion of keeping the Neapolitan coffee heritage alive can be tasted with the brand's every product. Soothingly dark espresso is true caffè alla Napoletana, which, even without the unique mineral content of Neapolitan water supply, will taste impeccable with Kimbo. Whether you're a long-time connoisseur or looking to replace your go-to morning delight, Kimbo is the perfect way to go.
We have to admit it - coffee has become synonymous with modern life, not only because of its energizing quality but also with ubiquitous deliciousness: you can indulge yourself with the velvety smoothness of perfect cuppa joe everywhere you go! And, if you're going to treat your taste buds to the liveliest liquid of them all, you better make it the best, aka Italian coffee, right? We had to make sure you're up to date with all the necessary information on why Italy is deemed the ultimate coffee capital and why you need Italian espresso coffee right now in your hands. While browsing our selection, you’ll be greeted with more fabled Italian coffee brands, so brace yourself to be startled with the luxury of choice!