Coffee has and continues to be a culture in and of itself, defined by different rituals, traditions and even mysterious laws from around the globe. But the magic of the Italian espresso brewing tradition is what has caught and held the attention of most avid coffee connoisseurs for decades. Italians have refined and mastered the art of brewing to extract the flavours and aromas so precisely, which is why it is the most popular brewing style to date. From the equipment to the meticulous roasting methods, to the vocabulary that’s used to describe it – Italy has undoubtedly left an indelible mark on this revered drink.

Read on to learn what goes into every perfect espresso and how you can mimic the Italian tradition to make each and every cup an unforgettable experience. 

 

Using the Right Beans

Italians usually start their day popping into the local café for a quick fuel up and a pastry, or with their own home-brewed cup. Espresso and macchiato are what you’ll find served throughout Italy as both are the most popular drinks in the country! Macchiato is like a cappuccino but served in an espresso cup for a more intense experience.

To begin the brewing process, you first must start with the right coffee bean. And for Italians, that means using Brazilian Arabica, which boasts a low acidic and smooth flavour, or a blend with other beans. Brazilian Arabica coffee is also the “sweet” base for a good espresso recipe. This ensures every cup produces fresh, rich flavours that require only a few sips to get that delicious flavour to kick start the day just right.

 

Slow Roasting 

Next up is the roasting process, which is integral to bringing out the true flavours of the bean. Roasting is no easy feat – the temperature and duration have to be just right. If the temperature is too low, you’ll be left with weak and watery coffee that lacks flavour, and if it’s too high, you’ll have burnt oily beans that taste awful. The magic of Italian espresso brewing really comes down to how they’ve refined this roasting process to a precise science. The beans are roasted until they’re a rich brown colour with minimal oil. Once they’ve been cooled, those beans will be grounded immediately before being brewed and consumed to ensure a bold and well-balanced brew every time. 

 

The Stovetop Moka

The Moka was the first aluminum stove-top coffee pot or espresso maker that was released back in 1933 by Alfonso Bialetti. It became a staple throughout Italian households after the Second World War and is still widely used even today. This contraption was the first low-pressure machine that could extract the flavours of the coffee to produce a stronger espresso.

This Italian press coffee maker comes in 3 different parts – the base for water, the middle funnel for the espresso grinds and the top chamber for the brewed espresso. Using very cold water and the amount of grinds desirable for your size of coffee (not too tightly packed), the Moka gets placed onto the stove with medium to low heat until it’s brewed in about 5 minutes or less.

For a perfect Moka coffee, you should leave the coffee on an induction cooker at 70°C. In this way, the water in the base starts to become vapour and thanks to the pressure created the hot water goes up through the coffee grinds, and you’ll obtain a tasty coffee, with a thin crema on it.

Instead, if you wait for the water to boil, it will reach 100°C and will burn the coffee, this is the reason why usually Moka coffee is quite bitter. To remediate this bitterness, sugar is usually added to coffee. Italian grandmothers found a trick to add sugar and to serve a coffee “like at the bar.”

 

Add Sugar and Enjoy

The final touch is adding sugar to top off the espresso or just giving it a simple stir. And many Italians will tell you that the sign of an excellent espresso is when the sugar can stay on the surface of the crema for about 30 seconds before sinking below.

This is typical of the south Italian tradition where commonly espresso blends have a higher quantity of robusta coffee (around 80%), which makes a very dense crema but is very poor in flavour, it’s necessary to add sugar to that espresso because otherwise it would be too bitter and it usually has clear wood and earth notes.

OROCaffe composes our blends with a majority of arabica coffee (80-90- 100%). In this way, the robusta coffee added just gives body to the drink. We do not recommend adding sugar to good quality espresso. Coffee has a beautiful and wide range of aromas; it would be such a pity to cover them with sugar taste.

Also, to drink a good espresso, the cup is very important: first it needs to be hot, it should be thick enough to grant the thermal capacity and have an “egg-shaped bottom”. A flat bottom breaks the crema, and you will never get a nice espresso.

In Italy, drinking espresso is not only a morning tradition– it’s also an after meal, mid-afternoon or even a before bedtime ritual. And like everything that tastes good, it is a true art form that has been passed down from generations, making it part of the lifeblood of Italian culture.

Looking for the best espresso to kick start your mornings? At ORO Caffé, we carry the best selection of beans with quality and sustainability at the forefront. Visit our website to order and learn more about us!