Imagine sipping a coffee on your hotel balcony in Venice – a magnificent view in front of you. Sounds like bliss to me! (Editor’s note: can we go now please?!).
Italy is certainly a country renowned for its coffee, but where are most of the coffee beans that end up in the country grown?
Italy may be famous for its coffee, but it doesn’t have the right climate to actually grow the beans. Italian coffee is made from Arabica and Robusta beans, which are imported from African, South American, and Asian countries.
Let’s discover more about the origins of the coffee beans imported to Italy, where the coffee heartland of the country is, and also find out how the Italians roast and enjoy their coffee beans. We’ll be on the next flight out!…
Where Are Coffee Beans Grown in Italy?
So, if coffee beans aren’t actually farmed in Italy, how come there’s a type of coffee known as “Italian”? The name actually refers to the roast rather than the bean. “Italian roasted” is a specific type of coffee, dark and with a touch of oiliness.
To create Italian-style coffee, the beans are roasted for longer at high temperatures. This results in a final flavor that’s less about the original coffee taste and more about those roasted notes.
The Italian roasting process produces that strong and rich brew that’s perfect for espressos.
Which Italian City is Famous for Coffee?
Trieste is the largest coffee port in the Mediterranean, and is Italy’s unofficial coffee capital.
Residents consume an astonishing 10 kilos’ worth of coffee beans each, every year. That’s over 22 pounds of beans, roughly twice Italy’s national average. When they say Trieste is a buzzing place, that’s why.
This busy port majors in coffee imports, and is also home to a number of coffee processors.There’s an annual coffee festival held every Fall, while the squares and streets are full of coffee shops, many of which have been in operation for generations.
Naples and Vanice also claim to be famous coffee cities; and while no one can deny that these are great places to find a fine brew, Trieste still wears the coffee crown. (I’m literally booking my flight as I write this!).
Which Italian Region Has the Best Coffee?
Ask any Italian person this question, and they’ll immediately have an answer for you: their region, of course!
More objectively, Trieste in the North East of Italy is the country’s coffee capital, because this is where most of the beans are imported.
However, foodie destination Naples (in Campania) is also a superb place for coffee fans to visit. Actually, the whole country is great for coffee lovers, and here are a few of the must-visit places for coffee in Italy. (Oh please, I’m stuck editing this and I want to go there right now!).
What is Italy’s Most Popular Coffee?
What is the best-loved coffee in Italy? It’s a tough call between espresso and cappuccino, as both are firm favorites, enjoyed everywhere.
The macchiato and moka are also popular choices, and as visitors from the US are pleased to see, the Americano is also a favorite choice.
What are the best-selling coffee brands? Lavazza, Illy, and Pellini are all popular. Try a cup of Caffe Vergnano for lovely slow-roasted Arabica.
Why is Italian Coffee So Good?
If you love a rich, throaty brew, the Italian slow-roasting process will definitely suit your palate.
The long exposure to high temperatures (typically around 440 to 446 °F) gives the beans that distinctive oily edge, which adds depth and flavor to your drink.
Interested in the roasting process? Here’s a short film about how Italian coffee is roasted, and read on to find out how slow roasting affects the beans.
What Makes Italian Coffee Different?
A longer roast has a huge effect on the coffee beans, resulting in a different-tasting brew.
You may have heard folk mentioning the beans “cracking” during roasting: well, Italian coffee is different because the beans are exposed to more than one “crack”. Here’s what happens.
The beans are exposed to heat until they crack, which releases moisture. Carry on heating them, and they crack a second time. This second crack releases the beans’ oils.
Many roasts stop after the first crack. Why? Well, this gives the beans a fresher flavor, and more of the original coffee taste is retained.
However, with an Italian roast, the second crack releases the oils, which alters the balance of flavors.
The roasty taste replaces some of the original coffee flavor, which is why you get those more “cooked” tones in Italian coffee.
Because the beans’ natural oils come to the surface after that second crack, Italian coffee is sometimes described as being a bit “oily”.
This oiliness is actually one of the factors that gives an Italian roast its standout flavors, and Italians on the whole prefer to drink this richer style of coffee.
Do you like an espresso to perk you up? Make your next cup with an Italian roast: you’ll really appreciate its deep and strong flavors.
If you like your coffee black, it’s especially important that you choose a blend that you really enjoy, and the dark Italian roast is an excellent choice to be served without milk or cream.
Want even darker? Leave the shores of Italy and head north to France, where this black-coffee-drinking nation loves a really rich roast.
The French Roast is smokier than the Italian Roast, because after the second crack (when the oils rise to the surface), they keep the beans cooking, resulting in the surface oils burning and imparting a smoky flavor.
Where is Lavazza Coffee Sourced?
Italian coffee company Lavazza sources its coffee from all over the world. The company was actually launched in the 1890s when its founder, Luigi Lavazzo, traveled to Brazil to research different types of beans.
He brought his ideas back to Turin, where he owned a small store. By 1965, Lavazzo operated the largest coffee roasting plant in Europe.
Today, there are several Lavazza coffee processing plants around the world, including three in Italy. There’s even one in the US now, in Westchester. Lavazzo is sold in around 140 countries.
Where Does Starbucks Italian Roast Come From?
Starbucks dark Italian roast coffee is made from Arabica beans, which are sourced from several different places, including Latin America and Asia-Pacific.
Because they follow the high and slow roasting process favored by Italian coffee makers, Starbucks’ Italian Roast is dark and slightly oily, and richer than many of their other blends.
Its intense flavors make it a good choice for that most Italian of coffees, the espresso, where you can really appreciate those roasty notes.
Ah, I can smell the aroma right now, so I’m off to get a coffee and finalize that flight booking. Italy here we come! 🙂