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Thread: Coffee: Do Italians do it better?

  1. #1
    Super Moderator Javaphile's Avatar
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    Coffee: Do Italians do it better?

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    An interesting article on the BBC on the subject: Coffee: Do Italians do it better? - BBC News


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    Do Italians do it better?

    No they don’t.

    Friends of mine recently visited Italy and say they didn’t find a decent coffee that they liked there.

    At home they brew their own good coffee on a Lelit machine.

    Where does the current World top barista come from? Australia of course. He is Sasa Sestic from Canberra. http://coffeesnobs.com.au/general-ne...sta-world.html

    Perhaps the Italians should import some better coffee techniques from Australia.

    As for Charbucks, I did taste it once and that was enough for me. No wonder they have not thrived very well in Australia

    Barry

  3. #3
    TC
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    I had very good coffee in Italy. As always, you just need to know where to go and what to ask for.

    Perhaps your friends were looking for 2 x Hazelnut mugs of chino.
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    Senior Member sprezzatura's Avatar
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    The original Starbucks at Pike Place Market in Seattle makes fine espresso and filter coffee. Again, it depends where you go. I've had plenty of ordinary coffee in Australia.
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    In my post #2, I did have my tongue in cheek a bit. I have not been to Italy. My friends who were there recently do drink strong milky coffee and possibly didn’t know how to find it where they were.

    Ten years ago, when in London and Dublin, I came across one acceptable coffee maker in each city where I consumed several good brews. The Dublin café had a barista from Holland.

    Barry

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    Coffee Nut fg1972's Avatar
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    It all depends on ones interpretation of good coffee and is often a matter of personal preference. Personally for traditional espresso, I think the Italians do it better but if we're talking light roasts, single origin, milky drinks then that's another topic.

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    It's a tough question to answer without making sloppy generalisations. There's the whole north south difference to take into account too. Never had a bad espresso in Italy, have had plenty of terrible, sour under extracted or even worse under roasted espressos in Sydney. We're more obsessed with our milk drinks here, pretty latte art and all that. If you had a gun to my head I would say espresso better in Italy, milk drinks better here. In general if course!! Many exceptions to this rule I'm very sure.
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    Quote Originally Posted by pyrmontboy200 View Post
    Never had a bad espresso in Italy, have had plenty of terrible, sour under extracted or even worse under roasted espressos in Sydney.
    Same for me, but substitute Melbourne. I didn't have single bad espresso in Italy in 6 weeks. The quality was amazingly consistent everywhere we went. Mind you we did do a bit of research and check out where the locals seemed to be heading, same as for food. But I'd say I've had much, much better and much much worse espresso here.

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    Senior Member sprezzatura's Avatar
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    I've had fantastic espresso in Victoria - best I've ever had in my life - then driven 60 KM to replace a vane pump in a commercial machine and as soon as I was done and the machine up to temp. again the owner pushed in to make onion gravy for chips on the steam wand. I had a laugh!
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    Senior Member sprezzatura's Avatar
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    I had a yobbo ask me if filling up the basket with International Roast was OK, too. "Sure," I replied. "You can do whatever you like." "Would you do that?" "Ahhh ... no, actually."

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    Having just been to Europe and having finished the trip in Italy, I can say it was a very great relief to finally get to Italy. First decent espresso all trip. No, not quite true, had one good one in Lausanne. And Italian coffee was consistently good. Was it great? No, not really, although I guess in tourist areas they don't take the trouble, and no doubt it's like here, you probably need to know where to go for really great. But even so, it must be the best and most consistent in Europe, surely.

    My sense of coffee in Italy from a couple of trips in recent years is that's it's more of a commodity. People walk into a café, stand at the bar, pay €1 for a single shot, swallow it and they're gone in a few minutes.

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    Coffee: Do Italians do it better?

    Quote Originally Posted by gunda View Post
    My sense of coffee in Italy from a couple of trips in recent years is that's it's more of a commodity. People walk into a café, stand at the bar, pay €1 for a single shot, swallow it and they're gone in a few minutes.
    This observation is significant. Coffee is price controlled in Italy - if you take it standing at the bar.

    If you sit at a table they can charge you whatever they like.

    Other comments:

    Cappuccinos are only ordered as a breakfast drink.
    You see Australians ordering a latte or a flat white. This gets blank looks. Or a glass of milk.
    The Italians often take a big whack of sugar in their coffees.
    Elsewhere in Europe coffee is pretty inconsistent, often made with those Jura automated machines and longlife milk. Scandinavia is a notable exception - coffee can be pretty good up there.
    Last edited by herzog; 16th August 2015 at 05:05 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by herzog View Post
    Scandinavia is a notable exception - coffee can be pretty good up there.
    Won't be anything like €1 though...
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    Quote Originally Posted by herzog View Post
    This observation is significant. Coffee is price controlled in Italy - if you take it standing at the bar.

    If you sit at a table they can charge you whatever they like..
    That last comment is is worth remembering !..
    Reported today that a cafe customer in Italy was charges 30+Euros for 4 coffees and a cake.
    ...it turns out there was a 5 Euro per head "service fee" in addition to the cost of coffee.!

    And remember it's still possible to be served a fresh ground, barista made, espresso, LB, FW, etc, for the equivalent of 0.65 Euro ...right here in Sydney or Melbourne !


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    Senior Member LeroyC's Avatar
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    Classic. I can't imagine that the $1 7Eleven stuff is much good. And 30EUR for four coffees and a piece of cake doesn't sound too extreme. When you consider that you can easily pay $5-$6 for a coffee in Australia and $7 or $8 for a piece of cake then you're paying around AUS$30. Of course it all depends on what you have and where you get it. Likewise you can get four excellent espressos and a piece of cake for about $15 in Australia, but certainly not in a tourist area.

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    Super Moderator Javaphile's Avatar
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    7 Eleven employs baristas?!? To me that ad sounds like the coffee is made in a superauto. If it was made by a barista they would have said so.


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    Quote Originally Posted by Javaphile View Post
    7 Eleven employs baristas?!? To me that ad sounds like the coffee is made in a superauto. If it was made by a barista they would have said so.
    Some 7-11s definitely have grinders, espresso machines and trained Baristas.
    Lavazza beans in use I believe.
    ..probably the best coffee you can buy ....at 3 am !

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    Quote Originally Posted by LeroyC View Post
    ?...And 30EUR for four coffees and a piece of cake doesn't sound too extreme. .....
    ??..Wow !..really ?...your sense of value is seriously distorted !
    ..are you a politician ?

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    Super Moderator Javaphile's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by blend52 View Post
    Some 7-11s definitely have grinders, espresso machines and trained Baristas.
    Lavazza beans in use I believe.
    ..probably the best coffee you can buy ....at 3 am !
    That's....disturbing. Over here, unless things are dramatically different elsewhere in the country, the only barista an employee of 7 Eleven would ever see is if they stopped at a cafe outside of work hours. Around here they're the bottom of the bucket of convenience stores and wouldn't know an espresso machine from a sewing machine.


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  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Javaphile View Post
    That's....disturbing. Over here, unless things are dramatically different elsewhere in the country, the only barista an employee of 7 Eleven would ever see is if they stopped at a cafe outside of work hours. Around here they're the bottom of the bucket of convenience stores and wouldn't know an espresso machine from a sewing machine.


    Java "7 Eleven....*shudder*" phile


    No wonder my mate found a button in the bottom of his 7-11 coffee cup the other day! I had a laugh
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    Quote Originally Posted by Javaphile View Post
    That's....disturbing. Over here, unless things are dramatically different elsewhere in the country, the only barista an employee of 7 Eleven would ever see is if they stopped at a cafe outside of work hours. Around here they're the bottom of the bucket of convenience stores and wouldn't know an espresso machine from a sewing machine.


    Java "7 Eleven....*shudder*" phile
    I'm sure you wouldn't dream of buying a good coffee from McDonalds either, but in many parts of Australia, including some urban areas, the best coffee in the area is at McDonalds.

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    Senior Member Vinitasse's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by blend52 View Post
    Some 7-11s definitely have grinders, espresso machines and trained Baristas.
    Lavazza beans in use I believe.
    ..probably the best coffee you can buy ....at 3 am !
    Really?!!

    Where?!!

  23. #23
    Super Moderator Javaphile's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jonathon View Post
    I'm sure you wouldn't dream of buying a good coffee from McDonalds either, but in many parts of Australia, including some urban areas, the best coffee in the area is at McDonalds.
    That's more believable to me as all the McD's here have at least a superauto with some having espresso machines and baristas.


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    Senior Member mwcalder05's Avatar
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    With Maccas snazzing up their burger menu (creating your own!), doing table service and being all fancy, maybe good coffee is next on the menu! Or I wonder how long it is until they get a liquor licence...

    In regards to the original post I can't comment about Italy but the best coffee in Germany and France were both made by Australians!

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    Senior Member LeroyC's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by blend52 View Post
    ??..Wow !..really ?...your sense of value is seriously distorted !
    ..are you a politician ?
    I didn't say it was good value, but either way it's impossible to judge when you don't know what was ordered and where from. 4 coffees and a piece of cake tells you nothing really.
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    Quote Originally Posted by LeroyC View Post
    I didn't say it was good value, but either way it's impossible to judge when you don't know what was ordered and where from. 4 coffees and a piece of cake tells you nothing really.
    detail of the order was not relavent.
    what was relavent was the point about being cought for a "service charge" of 5 Euro per head in that cafe if you decide to sit rather than stand at the counter.....( or maybe just look like a tourist)
    ...but if you really want to see the details......
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    Last edited by blend52; 18th August 2015 at 09:36 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by blend52 View Post
    detail of the order was not relavent.
    what was relavent was the point about being cought for a "service charge" of 5 Euro per head in that cafe if you decide to sit rather than stand at the counter.....( or maybe just look like a tourist)
    ...but if you really want to see the details......
    Whilst I agree this is absurd, unfortunately the additional costs of "servizio" and "coperto" (coperto can be for just about anything from bread that is brought to the table without being asked for, or even for the use of cutlery etc), have to be written on the menu (albeit it's usually in micro font, and I'm not sure if it only needs to be written in Italian). But often people don't realise this and so when they complain the staff can point to where it is written on the menu.

  28. #28
    Senior Member LeroyC's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by blend52 View Post
    detail of the order was not relavent.
    what was relavent was the point about being cought for a "service charge" of 5 Euro per head in that cafe if you decide to sit rather than stand at the counter.....( or maybe just look like a tourist)
    ...but if you really want to see the details......
    So the items themselves were cheap, but the service expensive. I guess that wouldn't be good if the service was no good. But this is just a different style of billing that doesn't happen in this part of the world. A bit like tipping in North America. Unfortunately for us antipodeans it's usually built into the price of the item and you don't get a choice about it.
    For example, 4 large milk coffees and 1 piece of brownie at City Extra at Circular Quay is $28.30. The chances of the coffee being good would be pretty hit and miss and if it's Sunday or a public holiday add 10%. You'd be more likely to get good food and drink at The Grounds of Alexandria, but likewise you'll be paying $29 for 4 large milk coffees and a piece of cheesecake. It is what it is.
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    The point is not the comparison of prices between Italy and Sydney,
    ..but rather to be aware of the COST difference in some countries between sitting and standing at the bar, ( you get "served" with a cup and saucer etc, in either location), something we are not used to.
    And I bet you wouldn't get a $20 difference in your bill if you chose to stand ( or take away ?) , at City Express !

  30. #30
    Senior Member LeroyC's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by blend52 View Post
    The point is not the comparison of prices between Italy and Sydney,
    ..but rather to be aware of the COST difference in some countries between sitting and standing at the bar, ( you get "served" with a cup and saucer etc, in either location), something we are not used to.
    And I bet you wouldn't get a $20 difference in your bill if you chose to stand ( or take away ?) , at City Express !
    True. It's actually better over there as you get the choice. You might learn the hard way the first time, but you would be more discerning after that. Just like in North America you give a minimal tip, or even no tip if the service is really bad and doesn't warrant it. Unfortunately you pay the same price in Australia no matter how good the product and service are. Sure you can always make a complaint, but that rarely delivers a refund, sometimes not even an apology.

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    Let's be honest , step out of the main CBD's of Melbourne, Sydney , Brisbane and Adelaide and you may as well drink instant coffee. When we say "Australians" let's not kid ourselves that every cafe in Australia is great, it's the exception not the rule , that why we spend the $ on our home setups !!'

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    Quote Originally Posted by herzog View Post
    This observation is significant. Coffee is price controlled in Italy - if you take it standing at the bar.

    If you sit at a table they can charge you whatever they like.
    This is the crux of the observation by gunda, below.

    Quote Originally Posted by gunda View Post
    And Italian coffee was consistently good. Was it great? No, not really, although I guess in tourist areas they don't take the trouble, and no doubt it's like here, you probably need to know where to go for really great. But even so, it must be the best and most consistent in Europe, surely.

    My sense of coffee in Italy from a couple of trips in recent years is that's it's more of a commodity. People walk into a café, stand at the bar, pay €1 for a single shot, swallow it and they're gone in a few minutes.
    The fixed bar price sets a pretty firm cap on the cost of coffee blends that are viable to serve at the bar and given that few cafes would bother using a different blend for tables vs the bar, it basically caps the cost of the blend across Italy as a whole. As a result, Italian coffee will not have the quality of beans that are used by micro roasters here and also by the big players with their "premium" blends (eg Grinders GianCarlo). The consistent coffee is a product of the good training of their baristas plus the fixed quality of their blends (decent but not great).

    Plus Italians see a teaspoon of sugar as being normal in their espresso, not a sin, and like the kick that some robusta gives.
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    I'm aware of the knocking back an espresso standing at the bar culture in Italy. However I'm curious as to what you would ask for if you wanted something along the lines of an Australian style Latte and if it would be considered a faux pas to linger a while as you drank it? or if you ordered it after midday?
    Cheers

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    Quote Originally Posted by mwcalder05 View Post
    ... but the best coffee in Germany and France were both made by Australians!
    I've heard good reports of a café in Paris run by an expat on the right bank in Rue des Martyrs (in the 9čme I think). Anyone found it yet?

    Quote Originally Posted by DanC View Post
    I'm aware of the knocking back an espresso standing at the bar culture in Italy. However I'm curious as to what you would ask for if you wanted something along the lines of an Australian style Latte and if it would be considered a faux pas to linger a while as you drank it? or if you ordered it after midday?
    I can't speak for a latte, but on the previous trip to Italy my wife asked for an "americano" and on a number of occasions was brought a shot, perhaps a double, in a large cup and a jug of hot water on the side, and the subtext seemed to be "if you're going to ruin it, you can darn well do it yourself, because we certainly aren't going to do it for you!" Hah. On this trip, we found the americano at one classy hotel to be filtered coffee left to stew on a hotplate. Perhaps the Americans liked it, but yuk. On the other hand, the made-to-order expressos at said hotel were spot on! The moral of the story to me was, when in Rome ....

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    Quote Originally Posted by DanC View Post
    I'm aware of the knocking back an espresso standing at the bar culture in Italy. However I'm curious as to what you would ask for if you wanted something along the lines of an Australian style Latte and if it would be considered a faux pas to linger a while as you drank it? or if you ordered it after midday?
    Cheers
    unless you found an Aussie Barista, or a well travelled bar owner, you stand little chance of getting an "Australian style" Latte in Italy.
    Requesting a Cappacino will get you a coffee with foamy milk in most places, whilst asking for a "Cafelatte" will get you an espresso with milk.....but don't be surprised if it's just straight cold milk !
    Also, keep in mind that most Italian cafés will use a dark roast bean so any coffee is going to be different to those you are used to in Au.
    PS... There are books published on how to order a coffee in Italy !(Amazon/Kindle $3 )



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