Coffee drinks aren’t immune to trends and fads. We’ve all seen the latest drink of the month come and go from our neighborhood coffee shops as well as the big chains. But there’s one coffee drink that seems poised to stay, particularly when the weather is warmer and we’re all looking to cool down: cold brew coffee.
Cold brew might seem like it’s just an iced coffee, but it’s not. Cold brew isn’t just chilled coffee. It’s actually coffee beans that are steeped in cold water for up to a day, and then often diluted with water before drinking. It has a smoothness and lack of acidity that many people enjoy (and it still provides a caffeine kick). And unlike some very fancy coffee drinks, making cold brew doesn’t require a ton of extra equipment or expense. How can you make it and what steps should you follow? This graphic offers some easy instructions.
Early this year, almost by accident, I came across an article in an Italian newspaper about a study into the best coffee capsules in Italy, conducted by Altro Consumo, an independent consumer-oriented magazine investigating a wide range of products. Whilst I am not in love with coffee in capsules, I found the research intriguing and decided to look into it.
The study looked at 24 different capsules available in Italy, including many of the big names of coffee roasters in Italy: Lavazza, Illy, Vergnano, Borbone, Kimbo, Gimoka, as well as the ubiquitous non-Italian Nespresso. Surprisingly, the highest-rated capsule came from Cellini, a company I knew very little about. I wanted to know more about these roasters. I found that they are based in Genoa, with the family roots in Tuscany; a few years ago they realised how important capsules were becoming to the modern coffee drinker and therefore invested heavily in the research, testing and production of coffee in capsules. But Cellini is no newcomer to the coffee business. In 1925, Amleto Pieri started to deal as a green coffee broker and, in 1946, immediately after WWII, started his own roastery with the support of his sons.
I was impressed by the story and values of Cellini and wanted to visit them in person. I contacted them and they agreed to a visit. Finally, in September of this year, with all due precautions dictated by the COVID pandemic, my wife and I were able to visit their current production site in Genoa. A fourth-generation descendant of Amleto welcomed us and immediately treated us to a cup of their award-winning Melodico coffee. Usually, I would have been reluctant to go with a coffee capsule, but I was very curious to try this winner and I was not disappointed, I loved it! Even my wife Silvana, who is very demanding when it comes to coffee, was impressed. What followed was a fascinating tour of their facilities, looking at every aspect of their operation, from receiving coffee samples from different plantations, through testing, tasting, chemical analysis, blending, development of the roasting parameters for each different blend, granulation assessment for different capsules, as well as a good discussion about speciality coffees and why they are unlikely to become mainstream in the foreseeable future. We had the opportunity to taste some of their other coffees and take a few samples home with us.
We had a wonderful and educational visit. We were impressed by their facilities, their professionalism, their attention to detail, their love and passion for coffee. We had one thought: we must get this coffee to South Africa, so I contacted my friends at WillowBrew and I am so happy that they agreed to start a working relationship with Cellini. The great news is that some Cellini products will be available in South Africa on the WillowBrew website or from any of its agents this month! (December 2020) As well as the award-winning Melodico Nespresso-compatible capsules, they have a range of other capsules with different blends, as well as a couple of single-origin capsules and one compostable capsule with organic coffee. For those who have opted for the Dolce Gusto machines, there will also be a couple of options. And for the traditional ‘I want to make my own coffee’ brigade, they also have some options of premium ground coffee blends.
As Cellini like to say: LIFE, PASSION!
Article about the study in HoReCa news magazine – English version: CLICK HERE
A phrase commonly used by coffee lovers. While we don’t know where this phrase originated from, coffee lovers everywhere agree that it is resoundingly accurate. Most of us would rather go without than to begrudgingly swallow a substandard brew. It is essential to most of us that we have the best coffee available. I and many are of the opinion that Italian coffee is the best coffee available. Why is it that so many coffee lovers and coffee professionals take this opinion? Let’s consider some reasons…
Firstly some history.
A fairly common misconception is that Italians invented coffee. In fact, the origins of coffee can be traced back to the Ethiopian plateau. Legend has it that a goat herder discovered the beans and their energizing properties. By the 17th century, coffee had made its way to Europe and was becoming popular across the continent, including Italy where coffee became a household staple. Appreciated at different times as a medicinal product, an expression of a lover’s affection, a status symbol for the upper class and intellectuals, or a way for friends and family to come together, coffee became quickly part of the Italian lifestyle and to this day is considered an integral part of Italian culture. Given this background, it is not surprising that considerable resources have been invested over the centuries in achieving the “perfect coffee.”
Italians have been roasting coffee for centuries. The first coffee bar in Italy opened around 1683 in the city of Venice. The oldest existing Italian coffee roastery, Caffè Vergnano, has been around since 1882. In contrast, the oldest South African roastery in existence, did not start turning out coffee until over 4 decades later, and most popular South African roasteries which are currently operating started within the last 2 decades. There is no doubt that these roasteries have made a name for themselves by producing good coffee, however it is impossible to argue that any of them could have the same level of experience as many Italian Roasters where the methods and traditions have been passed down through the generations. Italian coffee blends, and roasting techniques have been perfected over time and are closely guarded secrets, usually kept within the company or sometimes within the family. A notable example of an Italian coffee family, is the Zanetti family. Marco Zanetti is a 7th generation owner in a family coffee dynasty dating back to 1700. The Zanetti family is home to established brands such as Segafredo, La San Marco and Caffè Mokarabia. Experience and know-how cannot be acquired in a few short years and every reputable Italian coffee company employs one or more roasting masters, each with their own secret recipes. Italian roasts tend to be on the darker end of the spectrum, exhibiting a rich brown colour with little oil on the bean, while producing an incredible variety of flavours and aromas. While a coffee aficionado can enjoy and appreciate a coffee from most roasteries, few would disagree that Italian coffee is different from others.
Italy is also the ancestral home of many of the drinks we know and love today. In 1901, Luigi Bezzera came up with the idea of forcing pressurized water through coffee powder to produce a short, concentrated drink, known as Espresso. Espressos form the base for most drinks which we enjoy at home or at restaurants, including Americano, Cappuccino, Latte, and the Australian Flat White. Of course, coffee is now a global industry and techniques, standards, and the science behind coffee have come a long way since Luigi Bezzera, however it’s only right that we acknowledge the role that Italian coffee roasters and coffee bars have played in making strides within the coffee industry. Without these key historical events, the world of coffee may have been very different.
Italian coffee is different from other coffees.
Why? All coffee roasters buy their beans from the same countries and yet Italian coffee has a distinct taste. This is largely due to the aforementioned techniques and industry secrets, but there’s more to it. Italian coffee brings with it the culture of Italy. It is truly an experience unlike any other. Cappuccino in the morning and Espresso after lunch, a perfectly extracted, aromatic, full bodied coffee every time from just 7 grams of ground coffee. Each blend with its own unique characteristics, much like the people and places of Italy. Coffee made from a traditional Moka Pot, or stove top espresso maker, or from home espresso machine brings the experience to life! Bonus points if you use Italian branded coffee cups.
Have you experienced Italian coffee? Have you tried the variety of blends and brands available? Every coffee lover should at some point get a taste of the proverbial homeland of coffee as we know it. Is Italian coffee really the best? Many would say ‘Yes,’ but I encourage you to decide for yourself. Explore the variety of Italian coffee, and experience what hundreds of years of tradition can produce. You won’t be disappointed!
Personal preference dictates that each of us can like what we like, and enjoy what we enjoy, regardless of what others think of it. In this article, I have explained why I believe that Italian coffee is superior to others. I understand that everyone may not agree with this sweeping generalisation and that it is perfectly reasonable to get amazing coffee from other sources. My only hope is that coffee lovers enjoyed reading it, and hopefully found some useful information.
A Cappuccino is an Espresso – based coffee drink that originated in Italy and is traditionally prepared with steamed milk foam. Variations of the drink involve the use of cream instead of milk, and flavoring with cinnamon or chocolate powder. The name refers to the colour of the habits of the Capuchin Friars, and in this context referring to the colour of the beverage when milk is added to an Espresso.
The Moka Pot, or stove top espresso maker, invented in 1933 by Alfonso Bialetti, is a simple, effective, and elegant device which allows us to experience authentic Italian espresso in the comfort of our own homes. These pots work by passing pressurised water over Ground Coffee to produce an espresso. Many believe that true espresso can only be delivered by an expensive electronic espresso machine, however the Moka Pot can produce an espresso close, if not just as good as that produced by a coffee machine, at a fraction of the cost. Firstly, let’s understand what a Moka Pot is.