*exert taken from Nellositaly.com
Some argue that the Enlightenment took place in eighteenth-century Europe because, simply, that’s when coffee houses first opened. What does that make the Enlightenment? Just one major caffeine buzz. It’s true, Italians love their coffee and have so ever since the coffee bean first arrived at the ports in Venezia, brought from the Islamic world in the sixteenth century. They have it first thing in the morning, typically espresso or cappuccino; have it after lunch; perhaps a quick shot during the work day; then one after dinner before taking the ritual “passeggiata,” or stroll, through the city center. Every household has the famous “macchinetta,” an easy-to-use stove-top percolator made of aluminum and first built in 1933 by Bialetti that, when properly used, produces a delicious espresso at any time. No matter the occasion, coffee must be done right in Italy. It’s an art, and there’s no kidding around about the perfect espresso: rich, creamy, perfectly balanced from start to finish, not one coffee ground burned by the scorching hot, high-pressure water that passed over it. And what about those massive, gorgeous espresso machines you see in fine coffee shops in the United States, certainly all over Italy? We can thank Luigi Bezzera for them! In fact, we can thank him for the espresso itself.
Some Italians–in fact, many Italians–have one bar (Italian coffee houses are known as “bars”) they frequent every day for their coffee. It’s there where they talk sports and politics. It’s there where they start their day and, at times, end it with an aperitivo, a before-dinner drink (perhaps just after-work drink!). A barista–he or she who prepares the coffee–is revered in Italy. Though some Italians have a preferred bar where they get their coffee, some also have a preferred barista. There’s something to be said about that special barista who can pull that perfect espresso. Thank you, baristi of Italy–of the world, for that matter–for waking us all up and keeping the conversation going!