The days when coffee was just “coffee” are fortunately long long gone. Today, a cup of coffee deserves as much appreciation as a glass of wine or a fine meal. It would also be hard to think of Italy without thinking of coffee. After all it is the national breakfast and the home to coffee drinks.
No, coffee was not invented in Italy, but coffee culture as we know did originate there. Legend has it that a young shepherd in Abyssinia (the former Ethiopia), named Kaldi, noticed that his goats grazed near shrubs that produced bright red berries. The goats loved to eat them, but straight away, they would become livelier and friskier than usual. Intrigued, the shepherd decided to chew the berries himself and he immediately felt full of strength and forgot his fatigue. A passing monk from a nearby monastery asked the shepherd about his exceptional state and got a handful of berries in response. The monk tried them and felt so alert that he used them to stay awake until dawn the next day, perfectly concentrated during his night prayers. The magic beans would spread across all of Arabia since that day…
Be the tale true or not, Coffea Arabica undoubtedly finds its roots in the region of Kaffa in Ethiopia, where great coffees are still produced. Later, coffee took on the name of qahwa, which means “black wine”. The strategic position of Yemen also allowed coffee to be exported from the port of Mokha to Europe…(Rings a bell, doesn’t it?) This was not until the mid-sixteenth century, because at first it was nearly banned, just like alcohol. The 17th century saw the opening of the first European coffeehouse in Venice. After this, the coffee-cult spread quickly and other coffeehouses were founded in the major cities of Italy. These elegant coffee houses still exist, but (in my opinion) it all depends upon the coffee itself and not where you drink it.
Nowadays, Italy is still known as a country of coffee lovers who will not tolerate (or visit) an establishment that has bad coffee. Italians will even skip coffee in a restaurant to have one at a favorite bar, it is just that important to them. But not all coffee drinking in Italy takes place at the bar. In the morning, coffee is also often made at home, using a Moka (look at my brand new one in the image!!). The Bialetti Moka is the Mr. Coffee of Italy and is the most popular home method. It may not be a real espresso, it does taste very very very good. Jasmina and I tried it out sunday morning, after buying special Moka-coffee at Bianco Latte in Milano. The result was…yummy! Here is a video of how you make coffee with this Moka.
(without the special trick, of course, that’s a secret).
I remember the day that I had a simple necklace with just 1 coffee bean hanging on it. Now I’m looking everywhere for a look-alike version.
Wouldn’t that be lovely?
My addiction arround my neck (: