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Mangiare e bere (ep.2) Il caffè italiano

Italians love coffee. They drink as much as 14 billion espresso coffees per year, and all over the globe, you can find Italian-style coffee houses. But where this obsession for Italian coffee came from? In this article, we are going to look at the history of coffee in Italy.

Words such as barista, cappuccino, and espresso (be careful, no 'x' in it!) are used everyday in England and in the US. You might have your daily latte at Costa, or Nero, and sipping at it while you imagine yourself walking on a busy street in Roma or Firenze! But why is that so? Let's find out a bit more about the connection between Italy and coffee.


There are proofs of how coffee was already known in the Arab world between the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. Later in time, coffee can also be traced to France 1644, England in 1652, the United States around 1670, and Germany in 1679. But our story follows specific coordinates: Venice 1570, when a botanist and physician from Padova, called Prospero Alpini, arrived there with some mysterious dark and hard beans. The product was finally in place but the distribution not quite, yet. At the beginning of its history, coffee was primarily sold in pharmacies, due to its interesting exciting properties but its price was so high that only the wealthier classes could afford it. It became in short time the new 'hip' drink for rich Venetians and that helped it to spread its fame across Europe.

In 1763, there were already 218 coffee shops in Venezia and having a coffee, or even better, 'prendere un caffè' became a synonym of conviviality. The shops became meeting points for the bourgeoisie and cultural hotspots for writers and painters. Soon the cultivation of coffee reached Italy and it became common for the whole population to drink coffee. In the more recent past (1933), the invention of the 'moka' changed the way Italians prepared coffee at home and it soon became a symbol of the 'made in Italy' in the world.


Nowadays Italians consume approximately 3.7 Kg of coffee per capita, and with a price that ranges between 0,50€ & 1,20€, it is always a good occasion to 'prendere un caffè' with a friend and to restore your energies! If you enjoyed this article and want to find out more, consider joining our summer courses and follow us on Instagram to get our latest news and language tips!

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