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Thread: Can Italians make great coffee?

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    Can Italians make great coffee?

    Gene Cafe Coffee Roaster $850 - Free Beans Free Freight
    Italians make great machines, but do they make great coffee?

    From various reports the coffee in Italy is pretty ordinary, yet the are the makers of all this extreme espresso equipment. *

    I was in Italy 15 years ago, I had a cappucino or two at the bar in the morning which I thought tasted pretty good. *Back then, however, I thought Nescafe Gold tasted pretty good. *

    Any CSers been to Italy lately, and can attest that they make their coffee as well as their equipment?

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    Re: Can Italians make great coffee?

    I was in Italy a couple of years ago, and in Rome at least the general standard of coffee was very high, way ahead of what youd get at a random cafe in Melbourne (let alone the rest of Australia).
    I had one bad coffee in a restaurant in Genoa (note to self, dont order coffee in restaurants, even in Italy...) but otherwise it was pretty universally good, and the best stuff was very good indeed.

    Cheers,

    Dennis

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    Re: Can Italians make great coffee?

    It has been a while since I was in Italy....

    But I was never really impressed by the coffee there I must admit (nor at most cafes in Perth for that matter)....

    The beans were always very dark and oily.... and the flavour, whilst consistent.... I never thought was either very good or interesting.

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    Re: Can Italians make great coffee?

    I should have been more concise - the standard of coffee preparation was consistently high. Of course if you dont care for italian-style dark roasts then you may not find the result that interesting. Certainly you wont find the diversity of bean varieties and roast styles that you get at a St Ali or similar, but neither will you in Australia generally. Youll seldom get badly made coffee in Italy though, unlike here...!

    Cheers,

    Dennis

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    Re: Can Italians make great coffee?

    I have had italians here make me coffee and they generally understand whats involved better than most perhaps from an inate sense....but not always!

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    Re: Can Italians make great coffee?

    Yeah the general level of skill of commercial espresso machine operators over there is much higher than the general level of skill over here. That doesnt mean you wont get a poor brew over there, but there is more likelihood of it generally over here I think.

    However you also need to understand that they use an entirely different style of espresso blends over there, so the result in the cup is quite different to ours. Their blends for example require you to add sugar....or you dont get the best out of them...whether you are a sugar adder or not when over there...add sugar or dont drink it!

    Regardz,
    FC.

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    Re: Can Italians make great coffee?

    I was in Italy at the end of last year, and to date, the best coffee I have ever had was at a breakfast bar in Milan. Increadible mouth feel, and an almost sticky sweetness (no sugar) that lasted for ages. This was THE god shot in my books, and the one that all others have been judged against since.

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    Re: Can Italians make great coffee?

    The worst coffee I have ever been served in exchange for money was in a (very well known) cafe in Melbourne last year.

    The second worst coffee I have ever been served was in a cafe in Cairns a couple of weeks ago.

    And people wonder why I rarely buy coffee when out.........

    The unfortunate problem with this, is that the general public incorrectly make judgements on the *brand* of coffee they have just been served (logos all over the cups), instead of pointing the finger fairly and squarely where it belongs in the first place.

    Regardz,
    FC.

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    Re: Can Italians make great coffee?

    Quote Originally Posted by Fresh_Coffee link=1185414494/0#7 date=1185499293
    The unfortunate problem with this, is that the general public incorrectly make judgements on the *brand* of coffee they have just been served (logos all over the cups), instead of pointing the finger fairly and squarely where it belongs in the first place.
    Whilst I agree with your point in the main, do you think there are exceptions to this? For instance there are some brands of coffee that stress the need for training for an outlet to sell their coffee and and actually follow it up. Of course the true test comes with what is in the cup. I would chose to enter a cafe I dont know by a few brands, generally smaller roasters that I know will be fresh. Of course though as you say that doesnt always work anyway. And there are many cafes I would stay away from because of brand in the first place knowing that it will be stale. So I think there are exceptions to your point, although few and far between generally.

    Brett

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    Re: Can Italians make great coffee?

    I would challange anyone to find worse so called espresso coffee than what is served generally all over the states! I was SOOO happy to get to a friends place in LA after travelling somewhat a year or so ago and have an instant coffee flavoured drink, because milk based espresso drinks over there are so poor.

    Even when you find a cafe in the US that has a big sign stating Real Italian Espresso Served Here and you think BEAUTY,.walk in to see them placing a pod intheir espresso machine.... . >:(

    I am told that Seattle has some real coffee... and some fair baristas too.. going there next month.. hopefully the rumours are true!

    Sorry to talk off topic!


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    Re: Can Italians make great coffee?

    Quote Originally Posted by Fresh_Coffee link=1185414494/0#7 date=1185499293
    The unfortunate problem with this, is that the general public incorrectly make judgements on the *brand* of coffee they have just been served (logos all over the cups), instead of pointing the finger fairly and squarely where it belongs in the first place.

    Regardz,
    FC.
    I agree with that FC , when in Melbourne last Easter we ordered coffee with our breakfast in a cafe, coffee not bad breakfast very good. I had a mac to finish and it was terrible. I complained and was asked to try another that was made with care - *it was very good. Same machine, same coffee , same operator with added care. *:o


    Dino

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    Re: Can Italians make great coffee?

    I hope they got the hint.

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    Re: Can Italians make great coffee?

    Quote Originally Posted by Zedd link=1185414494/0#9 date=1185510640
    ...
    I am told that Seattle has some real coffee... *and some fair baristas too.. * going there next month.. hopefully the rumours are true!
    Zedd, youll have to drop in on Cafe Vivace in Seattle and give us a full run down on whether 3/10th of a degree Fahrenheit makes all the difference...

    And...

    Whether David Schomer is as nerdy looking as his photos.

    --Robusto

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    Re: Can Italians make great coffee?

    .. and dont forget to stop by cow girl espresso ;)

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    Re: Can Italians make great coffee?

    You can come by my place and have a coffee anytime FC. Just dont go thinking youll get milk with it.

    I reckon Italians do well with their own style roast. Give them a lighter roast and theyd probably not do it justice.

    Zedd, make sure you swing by Portland, Oregon on your trip. Home of Stumptown, and a bunch of very nice places for coffee. Do your research ahead of time, because there is also some not-so-good places as well (just like anywhere else).

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    Re: Can Italians make great coffee?

    SOme interesting replies to my question. Those people who told me the coffee in Italy is pretty ordinary I suspect may have had tourist experiences. As many tourists in Italy are from the US, the baristas have got to serving ditch water (no offence) lest be accused of the coffee being too strong.

    I do remember being laughed at by a Barista in Italy for ordering a cappucino after dinner. The locals were all giving me a funny look as i drank it.

    For many years the best coffee in Sydney was from the Italian places on Victoria st (notably Colluzi Bar). It would be fair to say that coffee in Sydney these days is consistently good. The Barista is a specific JD, not just a waiter, and get s well paid for it.


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    Re: Can Italians make great coffee?

    Quote Originally Posted by Beanhead link=1185414494/15#15 date=1185593062
    I do remember being laughed at by a Barista in Italy for ordering a cappucino after dinner. *The locals were all giving me a funny look as i drank it.
    Italians tend to treat milk as a food rather than a drink, which is why they look the way they do at after-dinner cappuccino drinkers. They cannot understand why you would continue to "eat" after youve just finished dinner.

    Cappas are nowhere near as popular in Italy as they are here. Over there, they tend to be consumed in the morning only.

    As for the coffee itself, the standard is pretty high IMHO.

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    Re: Can Italians make great coffee?

    Quote Originally Posted by Beanhead link=1185414494/15#15 date=1185593062
    The Barista is a specific JD, not just a waiter, and get s well paid for it. *
    You wont find an award rate for it though.

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    Re: Can Italians make great coffee?

    I think the general quality of coffee I have experianced in Italy is excellent, I always prefer capps there, and find them generally beautifully silky smooth and creamy, its funny though cos it seems they use UHT milk alot of times. Its cool how only a few meters off the tourist strips there are great little barres and cafes that are more than happy with your custom if you show a little interest.

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    Re: Can Italians make great coffee?

    Quote Originally Posted by robusto link=1185414494/0#12 date=1185535264
    Zedd, youll have to drop in on *Cafe Vivace in Seattle and give us a full run down on whether 3/10th of a degree Fahrenheit makes all the difference...

    And...

    Whether David Schomer is as nerdy looking as his photos.

    --Robusto
    Will do Robusto - I have made a note!!!!

    Dont know if Ill get to Portland nunu... but I will be checking out where the SCAA recommends as good coffee places!


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    Re: Can Italians make great coffee?

    Ive just returned from a week in Italy.

    My observations on the coffee would be that... it varies greatly. Notwithstanding the obviously darker roast preference of the locals, I was a bit surprised that tamping and cooling flushes were extremely rare (particularly surprising where machines had clearly been sitting idle for some time).

    That said, I sampled a fantastic espresso in a busy cafe early one morning in Milan (it even had a speckledly red crema - yum).

    I also found a fantastic cafe in Alba - where I stayed for 4 days, to drink Barolo of course - called Il Saluzzo. It was run by three young women who clearly had the knowledge. Milder roasts, tamper, and a busy cafe all led to consistently great coffee. It was packed with locals from dawn until dusk, clearly outpointing all the other local competition.

    Maybe the third wave is taking hold in Italy too?

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    Re: Can Italians make great coffee?

    Quote Originally Posted by slowdown link=1185414494/15#20 date=1193051789
    Ive just returned from a week in Italy.

    That said, I sampled a fantastic espresso in a busy cafe early one morning in Milan (it even had a speckledly red crema - yum).
    Just out of curiosity, was the cafe at the front of Corso Vittorio Emanuele shopping centre in the middle of the city?
    If so I think that was the one I mentioned in my earlier post. Simply exquisite coffee.

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    Re: Can Italians make great coffee?

    Certainly close to that amazing shopping arcade - it was about 50 - 100 metres south from La Scala - down Via Santa Margherita. Directly opposite Galleria Vittorio Immanuelle.

    A constant parade of sharp looking types in well cut suits - as youd expect from the world epicentre of fashion.

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    Re: Can Italians make great coffee?

    The problem with the Italian culture is, they dont want to learn anything about coffee. They believe they are making the best coffee in the world and no one can match it. They look at the history and dont look at the future. The coffee standards are always going to be the same. You wont see any COE in Italy. When you think you are the best then there is no room for improvement. Countries like Japan, U.S, Australia, New Zealand, Scandanvian nations are wanting to learn and push the boundaries, thats what coffee is about. I know where i want to be drinking my coffee in the future.

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    Re: Can Italians make great coffee?

    Quote Originally Posted by AndyL link=1185414494/15#23 date=1193310190
    The problem with the Italian culture is, they dont want to learn anything about coffee. They believe they are making the best coffee in the world and no one can match it. They look at the history and dont look at the future. The coffee standards are always going to be the same. You wont see any COE in Italy. When you think you are the best then there is no room for improvement. Countries like Japan, U.S, Australia, New Zealand, Scandanvian nations are wanting to learn and push the boundaries, thats what coffee is about. I know where i want to be drinking my coffee in the future.
    Sounds a bit harsh Andy :-?,

    I guess there is always the prospect that a food item that is so culturally embedded can become generic in the way that it is produced but having said that, if the end product in Italy is so humdrum, why do the hardware manufacturers go to so much trouble to produce such exquisite machinery to extract the best the bean has to offer.... doesnt really add up to me Im afraid. That and also the fact that most of the worst coffees Ive been unfortunate enough to drink here in Australia have been pulled by Australian lads and lasses who dont seem to know better.

    Im sure there are a few CS members of Italian extraction who will be happy to engage in debate about your opinion ;) ::)....

    Mal.

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    Re: Can Italians make great coffee?

    did someone mention italian extraction ...:)

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    Re: Can Italians make great coffee?

    Hey Mal

    We arent talking about your every day coffee here. Of course your average milk bar cafe in Australia vs your Italian cafe i know who is going to win. Im talking about the thread. Can Italians make great coffee? I dont think you will see a world barista champ coming from Italy in a very very long time. I dont believe you will be tasting COE in Italy. Watching some of the best baristi in the world perform in front of me, I know Italy is a long long long long way from the standard i have seen. Most of the coffees sold on coffeesnobs you would rarely find in a Italian cafe. But many cafes in Australia are doing it. The heart and sole of coffee will be in Italy and I would never question that. Good coffee and great coffee can be made by anyone.
    The Italian market is pushing amazing equipment. But thats not being driven by Italian customers. La Marzocca for example are one of the leaders in equipment, but they are going on what the world wants, not the Italian market. Speaking to some American engineers and coffee machine makers that worked with the Italians, they do respect the Italian manufacturers, but they were holding them back from doing something better. The world market is pushing for better coffee. The gap between great coffee and crap coffee is only going to get bigger.
    Some might say Im harsh..... Im a lot more harder on myself. I havent made myself a great coffee in a long time. Great to me is a word i use very rarely. To achieve a great coffee for me, I check the roast dates for peaks, the forecast on the weather to understand how my coffee will perform and change, temperture on my machine, understand and study the blend to know its weakness and strengths, humidity in the air, roast color, smell, grind, always in the morning around 8am, clean machine, a good night sleep, if im drinking a milk based coffee i look at how long the milk froths, right espresso for the milk and so much more.
    I do get a little sick of customers telling me how great the coffee was in Italy. Especially when its all based on the experience not the coffee.

    Great topic.

    Andrew

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    Re: Can Italians make great coffee?

    ohh yeah also our customers suck, which in turn makes our coffee suck!! I would love to make coffee for only Italians. Working in an Italian cafe would be soooooo easy. Short black after short black and the occasional milk drink in the morning. No more skinny, soy, hot, chai and 10 large takeaway coffees. Do that in my sleep.

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    Re: Can Italians make great coffee?

    Wow, was that a rant Andy? If not, Id be interested to hear you when you are really wound up (whoa, hold the skinny decaf)! Still, I suspect your points are probably valid.

    That said, we watched a really excellent Australian vid last night about Italian migrants in Australia, called Loves Brother (2004). One of the stars of the film is a late 1950s Gaggia lever coffee machine. I highly recommend this film - it is just great.

    Anyway, it got me thinking about how much we owe the Italians for coffee. And also, how for Italians coffee is part of something bigger - la dolce vita!

    Anyway, I think there is hope for Italy and great coffee. After all, great coffee is about the beauty of the bean, its flamboyance, the style, the taste, the passion. I think the Italians know lots about all these things. These things are second nature to them. *And that must surely lead them on to greater coffee?

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    Re: Can Italians make great coffee?

    I agree with you slowdown, and would just like to add for AndyL, that I believe a "great cofffee" transcends what is in the cup. Sure, that is critical, but I would like to add that the experience is very important.

    I was once fortunate enough to sit in the square on the Isle of Capri, enjoying a coffee and watching people go by; a stop at a service station produced an espresso where the attendant would have rivalled the flair of a competitor at a world championship; the waiter at a hotel in Florence brought out an espresso for me at breakfast and with a wink, said he had made it a triple for me.

    Sometimes, I have the pleasure of making myself a cup of coffee and sitting outside in a nice area of our backyard, and a sip of my coffee can immediately take me back to those places.

    All of these coffees were at least technically above average, but to my mind they were great coffees and will live in my memory until the day I die (or till the onset of dementia). Next time you are with a group of people ask them if they recall having had a great coffee and I bet that they will relate it to an experience!

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    Re: Can Italians make great coffee?

    I have no idea what the poll question means.

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    Re: Can Italians make great coffee?

    Experience is very important and i have many memories of great coffees overseas. I believe the talent of baristi in Australia is pretty amazing and at a higher standard that the Italians. The best Italians baristi would not be able to touch the Aussies or kiwis. Italians drink better coffee than Australians, I give them that.

    Slowdown you should see me when a customer tells me how to make coffee. They usually regret it!

    Andrew

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    Re: Can Italians make great coffee?

    Careful there Andy - you might start acting like an Italian. No, just joking. ;D

    Are you in Perth? Sounds like I need to sample your coffee (un ristretto, per favore).

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    Re: Can Italians make great coffee?

    Quote Originally Posted by AndyL link=1185414494/30#31 date=1193565187
    Italians drink better coffee than Australians, I give them that.
    They also pay a lot less.
    I was there a couple of weeks ago: 0.70 *for an espresso, 1.00 for a cappuccino. (at the counter)

    IMHO weve come a long way in the last 10 years re coffee quality in cafes, but as you say, they have it over us re the coffee they have available to them.


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    Re: Can Italians make great coffee?

    In Melbourne. Cafe is in Canterbury and customers are a times a little RICH!! Lets say the average property rose by 96 percent in a year!!! Was going up $10000 a week in some places!! Average house went for 1.1 million last year. So i get the occasional lesson in coffee.

    But i do know so many baristi in Perth. Pretty impressive team in Perth I must say and only getting better. Perth is a city that is pushing coffee to another level.

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    Re: Can Italians make great coffee?

    All that sounds familiar. Certainly pushing the coffee to another level in my house (cant say the same for the house price now but - on the way down methinks).

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    Re: Can Italians make great coffee?

    Now that pricing observation is true - why is that?

    Why would a cappucino cost just $1.60 in Italy (give or take).

    I would have thought the law of one price should hold - at least for the beans.

    So that leaves the other bits - labour mainly. Overally, Italy seems to be very good value for Australians (unlike France).

    That suggests to me that if they didnt have the Euro, they would have a low lira exchange rate that would make our dollars look good (ie. you would get lots of lira).

    As it is, they now have a high exchange rate value Euro, so their price level is low....

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    Re: Can Italians make great coffee?

    Hopefully someone has the guts to put up coffee prices in Melbourne per cup. Its getting damn expensive to make a good cup of coffee!!

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    KB
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    Re: Can Italians make great coffee?

    Andy
    Just moved mine up 20c a couple of weeks ago. No probs.even though lots of competition cheaper
    Ken

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    Re: Can Italians make great coffee?

    Good work Ken. I think a latte needs to go up to $3.20 soon espresso stay the same. Milk has gone thru the roof. I heard prices of milk in Germany went up 50 percent.

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    Re: Can Italians make great coffee?

    The average price for a coffee in Adelaide is $3. Some places charge more, some less. I had a very nice coffee for $2.50 last week at a small shop near the Centrelink office in the city.


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    Re: Can Italians make great coffee?

    Behmor Brazen - $249 - Free Freight
    Milk has gone up at least 5 times this year. From petrol, drought and everything else. Cheese is going thru the roof as well. Also china has put a huge impact on the world dairy market. A country that really never liked milk is loving it. This years drought is going to make it hard for many cafe owners.



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