My Italian coffee experience in Italy

Talk about your favorite cafes, local barista events, or plan your own get-together.
Blacktip

Postby Blacktip » Jun 14, 2018, 7:55 pm

Just came back from 2 weeks in Italy and Sicily. During my stay, I had 2-3 espresso a day. Rome, Florence, Venice, Assisi, Pompeii, Palermo, Agrigento, Taormina, and Amalfi. All but two coffee bars use Kimbo Bar coffee beans, and all but one coffee bar (in Pompeii) use volumatic machines. The one in Pompeii uses spring lever, and it was the best espresso among all. No weighting, just one or two clicks from a dosing grinder. No tamping either. They use a plastic tamper attached to the grinder. Slightly press the portafilter against it. No portafilter cleaning either. I have seen many very wet pucks. Dump, reload, insert, and serve. Normal cost is €1. In toursty areas is €2-3. Coffee bars are everywhere and most of them sell pastries as well.

To my surprise, I couldn't find any coffee beans for sale in stores, supermarkets, and duty free. Only ground coffee is available. Some of the coffee bars offer Kimbo Bar in 1 kg bag. I came across the only coffee roaster I found in Palermo. They had about 5-7 different types of beans ( I bought 2-250g bags)

All of the espresso taste the same. Just one or two tasted off. Capp and latte sucks. They don't know how to froth milk - too hot with a lot of air.

BaristaBob

Postby BaristaBob » Jun 14, 2018, 8:43 pm

What a trip!! :mrgreen:

In the land of origin for the espresso machine was there a common favorite among the shops...LM, or Victoria Arduino?
Bob "hello darkness my old friend..."

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Eastsideloco

Postby Eastsideloco » Jun 14, 2018, 9:32 pm

No. Caffes use La Cimbali, Nuova Simonelli and the like. Espresso is everywhere. But it's not a specialty coffee scene like you find in the US, Australia or Northern Europe.

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felyko

Postby felyko » Jun 14, 2018, 9:50 pm

Yes, we had the same opinion when we visited Italy. Best cappuccino was in Florence. Overall the typical mom-and-pop stores offer terrible espresso, unsuprisingly...

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spressomon

Postby spressomon » Jun 15, 2018, 1:47 am

Courtesy of Dick Green aka Peppersass, when we visited Italy (centered in Florence) we found his recommended Ditta Artigianale upon our stay in 2014. They served very tasty straight shots as well as micro-foam'd cappuccinos that were delicious. But, yes as others have noted, all the other espresso shops were mediocre at best. Well, except for the wonderful shots we got courtesy of La Marzocco while taking the super interesting factory tour!
No Espresso = Depresso

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Peppersass

Postby Peppersass » Jun 15, 2018, 3:36 am

Thanks for the tip 'o the hat, Dan,

Except for the rare bird like Ditta Artigianale, the espresso I had in Italy was a totally different experience than 3rd Wave espresso (or whatever we're calling it in these days of ultra-light roasts.)

Don't look for subtle flavors in Italian espresso, least of all origin flavors. The Robusta adds an interesting twist if handled the Italian way: dump lots of sugar into it and enjoy the lovely roasted coffee syrup. The coffee-soaked sugar at the bottom of the cup is particularly tasty. Don't bother with milk drinks.

If you put your coffee ego (or snobbery) aside, it's really a very pleasant experience, especially when enjoyed with a good pastry or a nice buttered roll. It made each morning of our stay very special.

Many shops in Italy do a good job with this type of espresso, far better than espresso I've had in France and Spain for example (that said, it was drinking espresso daily in Spain that got me started on my espresso journey nine years ago...) It's clearly an important part of Italian culture, only copied elsewhere. But it's nothing like what we talk about on this site.

If your set your expectations accordingly, you won't be disappointed.

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bluesman

Postby bluesman » Jun 15, 2018, 7:41 am

Peppersass wrote:If your set your expectations accordingly, you won't be disappointed.

That's the true secret of happiness, Dick - it's the most quotable quote of all!

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redbone

Postby redbone » Jun 15, 2018, 7:59 am

Excellent point Dick, " When in Rome....." I had a similar experience and attitude in Sicily last summer.
Between order and chaos there is espresso.
Semper discens.


Rob
LMWDP #549

BaristaBob

Postby BaristaBob » replying to redbone » Jun 15, 2018, 8:34 am

Redbone,

My daughter and son-in-law are in Sicily right now for five days on a photo shoot (life style of a professional photographer). Got a cafe recommendation for them? They have been complaining that the coffee in Italy is so bad compared to mine and Australia (their home base). Maybe they need to lower their expectations?! :roll:
Bob "hello darkness my old friend..."

Blacktip

Postby Blacktip » Jun 15, 2018, 9:02 am

BaristaBob wrote:What a trip!! :mrgreen:

In the land of origin for the espresso machine was there a common favorite among the shops...LM, or Victoria Arduino?


Most of what I have seen was La Cimbali

BaristaBob wrote:Redbone,

My daughter and son-in-law are in Sicily right now for five days on a photo shoot (life style of a professional photographer). Got a cafe recommendation for them? They have been complaining that the coffee in Italy is so bad compared to mine and Australia (their home base). Maybe they need to lower their expectations?! :roll:


If they are in Palermo, I suggest Ideal Coffee Stagnitta - just around the corner from Fontana Pertoria. Local coffee roaster, and a pastry and gelateria shop next to it. They have the best granita I had while there. (Sicilian almond)