Some people think that coffee is one of the world's most important beverages. I am not one of those people. However, after coming to Italy I have begun to have a better appreciation for coffee - or as they would say café. Before I dive into my personal thoughts on this beloved beverage, here are a few facts you might want to know:
- Coffee is the second most valuable traded commodity in the world.
- Espresso is regulated in production and consumption by the Italian government. Yes, it is that important over here.
- Coffee is a diuretic & psychoactive (in high doses it can make you see things).
Getting back on track, let me give you a brief history on my experience with coffee. I grew up with a British father who is very passionate about his coffee. I always loved the smell of coffee brewing in the morning, when I can back from school...and yes at night too. But when I was young he would never let me have any, saying " You should not have too much coffee when you are young. Coffee is a diuretic." (Note he is also a doctor). As with anything that you want and cannot have, I built up excessive expectations for what coffee would taste like and did not realize how strong (and often in The States how bitter) it is. Long story short, I hated coffee in all forms. Straight, ice cream, yogurt, coffee flavoured candies, and anything else you could imagine.
However, my old roommate from Colombia - which is the world's 3rd larges producer of coffee beans - told me not give up on the drink. Every morning in she would brew Colombian coffee and I loved waking up to the rich smell. While I never had any of her morning brews before she left for Rome, I made a vow to try the Italian coffee I had heard so much about. And upon arrival in Milano I realized that I actually had little choice in the matter.
Here coffee is like water to the average Italian as it is consumed at all hours of the day. On an average day you will find your ordinary Italian having a cappuccino with breakfast, sipping a caffè macchiato in the afternoon, and ordering a caffè (which is a shot of espresso) after dinner. But how could someone stomach so much of this bitter beverage? I too used to think this, but in 100% confidence I can say that I prefer Italian coffee to any that I have found in your run of the mill State side retailer. While I believe that this is partially because Italians don't mess with their caffeine intake, I have also noticed that the way coffee beans are processed & drinks are made around Europe to be quite different overall. Not only does European coffee taste better to me, but it also looks beautiful!
From authentic French press & Irish coffee to Italian marocchino & Austrian mélange, the variety in coffee types, drink styles, & flavours has changed my mind about this art form. Now I'm not saying I have become a connoisseur or fan of coffee overnight, but I am beginning to see myself branch out from my strictly tea oriented palate. So cheers to all you coffee lovers! You might just be onto something...