History, curiosities, pleasure.

Bringing a cup of steaming coffee to the lips is a common gesture in most of the world, but only few people wonder about the origin of the drink, its history and its social meaning.

Many legends refer to the origin of coffee. Everybody knows the legend coming from the Chehodet Monastery in Yemen, according to which one of the monk that, having being told by a shepherd named Kaldi that his goats and his camels were “lively” also during the night if eating certain berries, prepared a drink with these berries with the intent to stay awake to pray longer.

In the classification system of the vegetable kingdom created by the Swedish botanist Carl Linneo, coffee was classified in the family of “rubiacee”, that gathers 4500 varieties among which 60 species belong to the coffee group. Of the 60 coffee plants species, only 25 are the most commercial for the fruits but only the first four of them have a prominent position in the trade of coffee beans: Coffea Arabica, Coffea Robusta, Coffea Liberica and Coffea Excelsa.


Beliefs and legends

Bringing a cup of steaming coffee to the lips is a common gesture in most of the world, but only few people wonder about the origin of the drink, its history and its social meaning.

Many legends refer to the origin of coffee. Everybody knows the legend coming from the Chehodet Monastery in Yemen, according to which one of the monk that, having being told by a shepherd named Kaldi that his goats and his camels were “lively” also during the night if eating certain berries, prepared a drink with these berries with the intent to stay awake to pray longer.

Less known is the legend concerning Mahomet: it is told that one day, when the Prophet felt very bad, the Archangel Gabriel helped him bringing him a potion that he had received directly from Allah. The drink was dark as the Holy Black Stone of the Mecca, commonly called “Qahwa”. Mahomet drank it, suddenly recovered himself and left for great enterprises.

An other ancient legend tells about a drink that was a source of ecstasy, able to bring the spirit up to heavens. The most known story (told to the students by the Monk Antonio Fausto Nairone, teacher of theology at the Sorbonne in 1700) narrates about a shepherd named Kaddi in Arabia that, having led his goats to pasture, noticed bewildered that, after they ate the berries of a spontaneous plant, showed some excitement signals. The shepherd couldn’t explain what was happening and submitted the fact to the old abbot Yahia. The abbot, realizing the properties of the plant, made a drink that was bitter and rich of heat that, heating the body could impart new vigour to it, freeing it from sleep and tiredness.

A similar legend tells that coffee was discovered by an Imam of an Arab Monastery, who prepared a decoction and offered it to all the monks of the convent that stayed awake without being tired for the whole night.

An other story tells of an Arab monk, the sheik Ali Ben Omar, that remained alone during a travel to Moka, a city to which he was accompanying his teacher Schadeli, who died during the way. An angel appeared to him, encouraging him to proceed to the city where a terrible plague was raging. Here, with his prayers to Allah, he could cure many ill people and also the king’s daughter, with whom he fell in love. But the king sent him away and, forced to live alone in the mountains, to quench his hunger and thirst he had to invoke the help of his teacher who sent him a wonderful bird with coloured feathers and persuasive singing. Awaked and relieved by the melodious singing, Omar tried to get closer to admire the bird and, when he reached the place, he saw a tree with white flowers and red fruits: the plant of coffee. He picked some berries and made a decoction with healthy virtues that he often offered to the pilgrims that he hosted in his shelter. The piece of new concerning the magic qualities of the drink diffused and the monk was received in the kingdom with full honours.

A last legend tells that a huge fire propagated in a large territory of Abyssinia covered by spontaneous plants of coffee, diffusing for tens of kilometres the aroma of what we can consider a gigantic natural roasting.

Further legends tell that coffee comes from the Abyssinia highlands, where its real origin seems to be. Anyway, the reports of many travellers testify that the use of coffee was diffused in the whole Islamic East at the end of XVI century. 
In the West coffee diffused through Venice where it seems that the first “Coffee Shop” was opened in 1640, even if someone thinks that an other one was opened before in Livorno. In any case, the success was immediate and the coffee, both as drink and as shop, diffused in each Italian city. The diffusion of coffee in the world was facilitated by an interests conflict between who wanted to preserve the exclusivity of the precious plants and who wanted to obtain some profit from them. 
In 1690 a commando of Dutch marines landed to the Moka coasts, in Yemen, and could take possession of some plants: some years later, the first plantations blossomed in Java and Sumatra. Later, coffee diffused fast in Centre and South America where, especially in Brazil, are currently located the main plantations of the world.

Etymologic origin

The history and etymology of coffee start with the usual “Once upon a time there was & qahwa: word that originally, in the classic Arab language, meant a drink that, produced from the juice extracted from some seeds, was consumed as dark red wine or as liquid that, once drunk, provoked such exciting and stimulating effects to be also used as medicine.

Later the meaning reduced, turning from “qahwa” into the Turkish word “Kahve'” which means coffee in the real sense of the world.
In spite of the different derivations, the correct scientific term is “Coffea Arabica”: this derivation is sometimes questioned by those who assert that the word “coffee” comes from the name of the area where the plant grew spontaneously, i.e. Caffa in Ethiopia.

Origin of coffee

As for other kinds of plants and seeds, also the discovery and introduction of coffee are connected to the history of wars, colonization and commerce. Its diffusion in the world was facilitated by the colonial and war events of those populations that, during their travels and businesses, introduced it in the different countries. Many legends were born about this drink and some of them certainly have a touch of truth. The inhabitants of Abyssinia used to crop the coffee beans, dry them, toast them and then, with butter and salt, made some aromatic breads that they used to consume during their travels. This habit is currently still practised by some African tribes. The same consumption was done by the ancient Arab warriors, who believed that such food, due to the presence of caffeine, made them more courageous and aggressive during the battles. For some experts the importation and the cultivation of the coffee plant diffused in Arabia, on the mountains of Yemen, after the Ethiopic invasions of the XIII and XIV centuries. The most popular tales concerning coffee are set in Arabia, because the use of the berries as drink is attributed to Arabia.

Diffusion in Italy and in the world

In the western world

Coffee appeared in the West during the second half of the seventeenth century: the experts dated its official introduction in the year of defeat and expulsion of the Turks that were besieging the city of Vienna. After the expulsion of the Ottomans, in their camps some bags full of strange dark beans were found. No one had ever seen those beans and no one knew how to use them. Mr. Kolschitzky, a Pole who lived for long time in Turkey, took the beans and opened a Coffee Shop where a black and bitter drink was served to the Viennese. At the beginning this drink was not appreciated but Mr. Kolschitzky didn’t resign. He mixed coffee with honey and milk, obtaining a drink that was very similar to our current cappuccino. The success was immediate, and the first European coffee was born with the name “blue bottle”. This was the first triumph for coffee in the western world.

Coffee in Italy

Servitore di caffe’ stampa veneziana del ‘700)

In the second half of XVI century coffee crossed the east borders to approach Europe: during the period of the great sailing-vessels ploughing the Mediterranean sea, coffee was introduced in the main countries of our continent.
As already told, coffee appeared in Venice around 1570. The merit for having introduced it in Italy must be assigned to the Paduan Prospero Alpino, well-known botanist and doctor, that brought some bags from East. 
The Venetians were the first who learned to appreciate the drink. Anyway, at the beginning the cost of the drink was very expensive and only the rich people could afford to buy it, because it was sold in the chemistries. 
After the first Coffee Shop, so many other shops opened in Venice that the owner of the first Coffee Shop was forced, to fight the competitors, to publish a booklet exalting the healthy properties of the product. It was 1716 and this booklet can be considered as the first advertising document of a Coffee Shop.
In 1763 Venice counted 218 shops. In a short time coffee becomes a highly appreciated product, often a sign of friendship and love: in Venice, at the beginning of the eighteenth century, wooers and lovers took the habit to send their favourites some trays full of chocolate and coffee as expression of love.

Also in Italy, as for other countries, the introduction of coffee clashed with the opinion of some exponents of the Church, so that some Christian fanatics instigated Pope Clement VIII to prohibit the “devil drink” to the believers. But the Pope, once tasted a cup, did not prohibit its use. Thanks to the papal approval and benediction, coffee multiplied its success.
Coffee was appreciated by the culture men of eighteenth century who called it “intellectual drink”. Coffee was interesting not only for its characteristic of being a “refreshment infusion”, but also for its curative properties (a leaflet printed in Milan in 1801 stated the importance attributed to coffee by some doctors who described it as a good medicine).

Coffee for arabs

Apart from legends and traditions, between the XIV and XV centuries coffee was already largely diffused among the Arabs (Arabia, Yemen, Syria, Egypt) where it was mostly consumed to stay awake during the night prayers. 
At the beginning, to avoid the diffusion of a secret of a plant that was considered precious and magic, Arabs prohibited the exportation, also because until 1400 in Arabia the coffee beans were used not only as a drink, but also by doctors with curative purposes. Later its diffusion expanded from one convent to the other up to capture the whole Arab world.
In the Mecca and in Medina, the first public Tap-Rooms were introduced in the XV century. Men could enter and taste a bitter coffee (only later the use of sugar was introduced), dense with frequent exciting effects. In those furnished and coloured shops, according to the east fashion, the meeting used to proceed listening to the music and playing typical popular games.
But in spite of all this, the use of the drink met some obstacles among the Arab population, because its exciting effects clashed with the strict mandatory Islamic laws. Some authorities condemned its use in public places: many coffee shops closed, the shop-keepers were arrested, all the stored stocks were confiscated and publicly burned. But thanks to the Egypt Sultan, who revoked these orders, coffee achieved such a large diffusion that it became more and more popular. But even if the drink continued its diffusion, its destiny suffered many events and contrarieties, mostly due to the hostility of the Islamic religious authorities that observed that the increase of taverns frequency corresponded to the desertion of the believers to the mosques. 
They decided to alarm the population informing them of the damages that coffee caused to the human body. Also physical and ideological persecutions took place: from the pulpits they thundered against that drink preaching that, not only it was prohibited by the laws, but also that drinking it was a greater sin than going to the taverns. To intimidate the population, some Islamic religious started informing that, on the Last Judgment Day the face of the ones who tasted that drink would look more black than the pot they used to prepare it. The authorities were afraid of a rebellion growth inside the coffee shops; while the religious, observing a lower participation to the religious practices, were afraid of loosing their importance. But at least privately, people continued consuming coffee: it became the official and more diffused drink, gaining the name of “wine of Islam”.

In the France of King Louis XIV

Coffee during the Napoleonic period

In France coffee was introduced in 1644 by some merchants of Marseille coming from the East. A good success of the drink dates back to 1660 in Marseille where, in 1671, some private citizens opened, following the model of Constantinople, the first public Coffee Shop. This shop was located in the district attended by the richest merchants and sailors who met in that shop not only to drink a cup of steaming coffee, but also to play, smoke and organize their business travels.
Some French vine-growers, seeing that the sale of their product was compromised, started a negative propaganda about coffee with the support of some doctors. 
They diffused a Persian tale that demonstrated that it caused impotency and that for this reason coffee was an enemy of love. Also the Town Council of Marseille declared that the drink was “very pernicious to health”. On the contrary, the population, knowing the impetuous nature of Arabs, that were the first using coffee, was not persuaded by those rumours and continued drinking the oriental elixir. 
As Marseille, also Lyon, Toulouse, Bordeaux and Paris had their coffee shops. The only thing that did not immediately meet the public approval was the bitter taste of coffee, because the habit of using sugar did not instantly diffuse. But when the drink appeared in the court of Louis XIV, the shops had a better luck. Louis XIV felt so much in love with the drink that he used to prepare it personally, even when it was offered to his guests. Being held in great consideration by the king, coffee became a fashion for all of the members of the court. 
The first coffee shops arose around the famous theatre of the “Comedie Francaise”: the first one, opened in 1679, was the first example of theatre coffee shop, a prototype of the future European coffee shops. 
More important was the second shop opened in 1686 and located in front of the “Comedie Francaise”, that was known for the name of its founder “Cafe’ Procope”. This shop was an important destination for philosophers, artists, sociologists, politicians, literary men: Diderot, Fontanelle, Voltaire and others attended it and in Europe its name represented an important politic – literary centre. From this one, other coffee shops started receiving artists and intellectuals that met there to exchange their opinions and sometimes to launch new ideas.
In Paris, popular was also the “Cafe’ de la Regence”, that opened at the end of the eighteenth century and become popular because many famous writers used to meet there. Founded by a Florentine, it was, for importance, the second Cafe’ of Paris, with very popular sorbets and ice-creams.
That was a period of such splendour for coffee that also Napoleon was told to be a great estimator of the warm and steaming drink. In coincidence with the block imposed from 1806 to 1813 by the allies against France, some indispensable goods were missing, among which also coffee. The emperor suggested to the population to use a surrogate with a basis of chicory and prohibited the use of coffee. But this lasted for a short time: soon coffee gained again its usual place in the daily habits of the French.

In Germany

The diffusion of coffee in Germany started some years later due to the strong predilection of the population for beer, but then its success caused a recession of the beer consumption.
The first German Coffee Shop dates back to 1679 and was opened by an English merchant in Hamburg. 
Other cities with these kind of shops were Frankfurt, Leipzig, Nuremberg and Berlin. 
Coffee had such a success to arouse the complaints of the bier-makers and to cause some problems to the state balance. Frederic II of Prussia had to take strict precautions to restrain the blooming coffee market and to raise the state balance. He issued a law stating that the exclusivity of the beans roasting had to be controlled by the State. This law was obviously not appreciated by the population because the richest classes could easily get the authorization. 
The law, issued on the 21st of January 1781, prohibited to everyone to get or sell coffee, roasted or to be roasted, with a penalty of ten pounds. He also prohibited to anyone that was not authorised to roast inside his own house or in someone else’s granary. Moreover, who was already in possession of bean coffee was forced to inform, within eight days, the government permissions office. 
A particular episode shows the importance of coffee. In the suburbs of Berlin some refreshment places were born, where the tourists could stop and get some milk and coffee. But this clashed with the law and the owners had soon to stop the coffee sale. To obviate that obstacle, the owners decided to offer to the travellers only cups and hot water informing them that they could prepare their own coffee by themselves. When the king died, the prohibiting law was fortunately abrogated.

In England

England, known as the country of tea consumers, increased the influence of coffee among the population since the second half of XVII century. 
In 1652, the shop-keeper Daniel Eduard, coming back from a travel to East, introduced the coffee beans to his friends, offering them the drink in his house. Following his example, many intellectuals started having meetings in their houses, forming clubs, to taste it while discussing about art, literature and politics. The appreciation of the drink encouraged some people to introduce coffee to London, to public places. Daniel Eduard was the first who opened the popular public coffee shop called “Michael’s Alley”. 
After a quarter of a century from the opening of the first coffee shop, London counted ever 300 places. To attract more customers in the first public place they diffused a leaflet that is currently exposed in the British Museum. 
The luck of coffee in England was due to the fact that it helped fighting the problem of alcoholism, which was very diffused in the English society around the second half of the seventeenth century. The propaganda against alcohol handled by the doctors marked the diseases caused by the abuse of high gradation drinks facilitated the success of coffee and its consumption reduced remarkably the vice of drunkenness. Anyway in this country coffee had some periods of uncertainty. In fact, due to the growing popularity of the new public places, women felt neglected by their men that often used to meet in the coffee-shops. For this reason in 1674 they diffused a petition against the drink. As reply to this action, men printed a document aimed to confute those calumnious insinuations.
More drastic effects, even if for a short time, were caused by a real measure against coffee. King Charles II of England, thinking that coffee-shops were places where people could organize subversive demonstrations, in December of 1675, ordered the closure of the shops. This action raised a discontent among the population and the king was forced to revoke it after one week. These two episodes remarked a defeat of the coffee enemies and the success of individual freedom of the citizens and a new input to appreciate the drink in the coffee-shops.

In The United States

In those countries coffee was introduced in 1670 by the colonizers who imposed European habits and customs. Even if not very diffused, coffee achieved its success after the second half of the eighteenth century, gaining the markets of the most important American cities in a short time.

Sweden: an incredible episode

An anecdote concerning coffee takes place is Sweden where in the eighteenth century two groups of citizens stated arguing violently. One of them affirmed that coffee was a better drink than tea while the other one affirmed the contrary. To solve the problem, king Gustav III of Sweden ordered to give only coffee and only tea to two twin brothers sentenced to death in the Stockholm prison. In a short time facts would demonstrate which one would die first. 
Observed by doctors and judges, the experiment started, while different citizens bet and predicted which one would resist. Paradoxically both of them survived for many years, while their observing doctors, judges, the king and betters died before the two convicts. 
Of the two, the first one who died more than 50 years later than the experiment, was the brother who drank tea, not due to the drink but to the age of 83 years. It is told that the other one died almost centenarian.

Coffee in Turkey

When coffee started its diffusion among the Turkish population, probably due to the ones who had a profit from its consumption, a rumour stated that Allah had some coffee before creation, some tea during the resting day, and some wine when Adam and Eve disobeyed him. The story intended to mean that coffee, sharpening intelligence, stimulated creativity and fantasy. 
Some places were opened in the city of Constantinople during the kingdom of Solyman the Magnificent: the first “Cafe’ for refined people” that were named “schools of cultured people” or “wisdom schools” where coffee was denominated “milk of the chess players and thinkers”.
In this way they soon became places for an elite, more and more numerous, where many diplomatists, intellectual, artists, poets, writes, literary men and public officers met. At any time of the day and night they could taste the invigorating drink. Still today the Turkish way of preparing coffee is very popular. The time passed tasting the warm and dark drink was not only a relax moment, but also moment of communication and discussion: the period during which coffee was looked with disfavour was finished.

Transplanting of cultivations to the tropical countries

Rich landowner talking to a labourer (ancient paint)

During the second half of the eighteenth century extended plantations prospered in most of the tropical countries, with a remarkable supremacy of France, that better exploited the plants of its colonies. But during the Napoleonic embargo at the beginning of 1800, the French diffusion of the plantations dropped.

The English were the ones who satisfied the European market for many years, until when the interest in the drink decreased. From Arabia and from its bordering African countries, thanks to the Dutch, French, English first, and to the Spanish and Portuguese later, soon the cultivations invaded the whole African tropical area, the archipelago regions to extend to the continental countries of South America. From Guayana, the plants sailed the sea to Brazil in 1727, to later diffuse to the other countries of Centre – South America that were located between the two tropics.

In 1727, under the guidance of the botanist Fra Jose Mariano De Conceicao Veloso, coffee started being cultivated in Para, to be then cultivated in the whole Brazil, surpassing and often replacing the cultivations of sugar canes and achieving, in a few decade, very high percentages of production, reaching in 1928 the 4/5 of the whole worldwide production.

From the beginning of the thirties, for approximately fifteen years, 77 millions of 60 Kg bags were destroyed because of the high costs of storage. During those years the African countries producing coffee had the possibility to introduce their product into the market at competitive prices because their not-exceeding production quantity did not need any storage. Today everything is scheduled: production and costs have normalized compared to the cost of life, and coffee continues being the pre-eminently energetic drink, achieving during three centuries the highest consumption peak.

Brazil and Colombia keep being the main coffee producers and exporters. Coffee is the most important product for the economy of these two countries, absorbing the main occupational force and giving the highest profits to their national balances.

Coffee and health

Studies and researches have been succeeding more and more frequently up to the achievement of results that showed the reactions provoked to the human organism by coffee.

The First Bio-pharmacologic Symposium concerning coffee took place in Venice, in October of 1970. In October 1971 in Florence the second Convention took place, and in 1972 in Vietri the third Convention completed the exposition concerning the properties of the active substances of coffee, confirming the positive effects and denying the negative prejudices diffused in the past. 
During these conventions, experts of diet therapy, nutrition and human physiology confirmed the therapeutic property of coffee, which is a drink that in a society like ours helps defeating the physical and mental stress, characteristic of our epoque.

From the nutritional point of view coffee is not an essential nourishment for our organism. Anyway, some substances contained in coffee provoke positive effects to the organs. Naturally, as for every other food, it is necessary to avoid abusing it or consuming an excessive quantity in order to not have any inconvenience due to the abuse. 
The habit to consume it daily does not cause any addiction even after long periods.
The following is a list of some of the most frequent effects produced by coffee to our organism. Coffee, in fact, is a substance that contains caffeine that usually affects the nerve centres, causing a sense of general wellbeing that spurs on being more watchful and active during a physical work or during a work requiring a good quickness of reflex. 
This stimulation, due to a in combination between the caffettaninnico acid (mix of different acids among which the chlorogenic acid and the caffeic acid). Caffeine, alkaloid that Runge discovered in 1820, is located in the seed and in the leaf of the plant of coffee, tea, cacao, cola and mate. This is the reason why in some countries (i.e. Sumatra Island) they directly use decoctions of roasted leafs.

A cup of coffee consists of approximately 5 cg. of caffeine, and its exciting action, that lasts one or two hours after having drunk it affecting the cerebrospinal nervous system, provokes a stimulation of mental powers, removes the sleepiness, boredom, tiredness, also psychic, depressed states, improves the memory, learning, intuition and concentration capacities and facilitates the perception of sensorial spurs, reduces the headaches and hemicranias.

The positive effects of caffeine to the activities of the nerve centres was experimented with the technique of conditioned reflexes: administering therapeutic doses, an increase of conditioned reflexes rapidity was observed, while the period of their latency was reduced. Its beneficial effects reach also the heart and for this reason in pharmacotherapy it is used as cardio tonic. Moreover, caffeine reinforces the arterial tone, without altering pressure, also improving the coronaries circulation. It is important to know that the effects to the heart are secondary and not perceivable, considering the usual doses of 2 – 3 cups. This mainly refers to the ones that can be considered the negative effects such as tachycardia.

Also the lungs benefit of the spurring action of a cup of coffee. They present a reinforcement of the bronchi dilatation and of the lung ventilation, facilitating a better breathing. 
As far as the muscular system is concerned, coffee strengthens the muscle contraction capacity, reduces the tiredness, improves the movements coordination and the sports performances. For this tonic action to the muscular system coffee is suitable to sportsmen, because it reduces tiredness especially for long-lasting sports, when tiredness takes possession of the body and movements become more difficult.

Coffee stimulates the vasomotor nerves of the sympathetic nervous system and consequently helps digestion. This is why coffee, beyond being the energetic drink for the morning awakening, is also useful for lunch and dinner, because it acts on the stomach walls, helping the secretion of gastric juices and starting and improving the digestion.

In the liver it activates the bile production and the gall bladder contraction. In the intestines coffee helps the movements improving its functions. Additional positive effects of a good cup of coffee concern kidneys, where it causes the dilatation of the kidney arteries improving the diuresi.
To the endocrine glands it stimulates the adrenal glands secretions (cortex/cortisone, etc.; medullar/adrenalin) and at last it stimulates the thyroid function and the metabolism.

The poor caloric content allows a free consumption without causing any damage to the hypo caloric diets.

How to recognize a good coffee

Two, three minutes maximum are enough to drink an espresso, but pay attention&do not let it cool down!!! It could loose its TASTE and AROMA, and you would cancel in a moment the long process starting with the crop, classification and product analysis that brings coffee to be a friend during the whole day.

Everything starts with the crop, that is carried out when the fruits of the coffee have achieved the correct maturation and have a red colour. The fastest crop process is the “stripping“, but in this way all the fruits are cropped, included those who did not achieve the maturation and those who matured too much. The other system is called “picking” that assures a better quality. Picking means hand crop of the mature fruits only.

Once the fruits are picked, the first treatment starts, and it can be dry or wet. Today the wet treatment assures a further selection of the fruits and a better homogeneity of the beans. After the wet treatment, coffee is ready to be roasted.
The best aromatic quality is obviously obtained with coffee ground before the use. An excellent espresso can be recognized from the appearance and taste: the cream must be brown – reddish with stripes, the body must be dense and the taste persistent. On the contrary, an imperfect espresso can be under extracted if it has a light cream with large bubbles, an inexistent body and a poor taste; or over extracted if it has a dark cream, a bitter taste, astringent with not much aroma.

To recognize a good bar espresso, it is enough to pay attention to the exam of the cup: the cream must have a beautiful light brown colour and be particularly dense, so that sugar can slowly descend and the cream can form again once the sugar is stirred.

The temperature of coffee is very important because the heat allows a better concentration of odorous substances that are different depending on the used blends.
In the mouth, with the association of olfactory and gustative sensations, professional people and people who are really fond of coffee can recognize the usually called “flavour“: that means richness and taste corpulence. Moreover, being able to recognize a good espresso facilitates the preparation of a good home-made coffee, even if the results will obviously be different because different and less sophisticated are the machines used to prepare it.

Coffee prepared with mocha

Here are ten rules to prepare a real Italian coffee with mocha. Following these little suggestions, you will better appreciate your home-made coffee:

1) Buy a good brand of coffee, high quality and suitable to your taste;

2) Absolutely avoid any blend with surrogates that alters the drink. In short, few but good;

3) Use fresh and light water, this is the second important component. Salty, calcareous or hard water typical of certain areas weakens the taste. Remember to not use boiled water;

4) Dose properly the proportions of coffee and water. The most diffuses coffee maker machines, Express and Neapolitan types, have already predetermined portions, with respect to the number of desired cups. For the other cases, remember to use a full tablespoon for each person; 

5) Do not accelerate the preparation time, using hot water. Always start with cold water that will gradually heat on the bright flame. Be patient for some minutes;

6) Do not press the ground coffee inside the coffee machine. Put it with delicacy, eliminating the clots;

7) Follow the infusion phase not abandoning the coffee machine on the flame; coffee and machine could be compromises. The cover must be open, avoiding steam condensation to fall into the pot and burning or altering the taste of coffee;

8) Remove the coffee machine from fire once the coffee is ready. The drink must never boil, because it would become unpleasant. Remove the machine from fire some moments before the end of the outflow;

9) Drink the coffee very hot, just made: this is the most suitable moment to enjoy its full aroma and taste. The remaining coffee must be preserved inside glass or ceramic recipients, not metallic recipients. Moreover, it must be heated in a bain-marie or on a electric plate; never heat it directly on a flame; 

10) Clean carefully the coffee machine each time you use it, do not use soaps or detergents, but only rinse with hot water. The cleaning of the filter must be very careful because this is the point where some residues could deposit, causing consequent unhygienic effects to the drink. A brush with animal bristle can be used to rinse with clean water. Before the use, it is better to boil a small quantity of coffee in new coffee machines or in the ones that have not been used for a long time.

Some rules to prepare a coffee in a bar

At the base of the preparation of an espresso there are some rules that barmen and apprentices must follow.

First of all, let’s examine the word ESPRESSO. Espresso is the coffee that is prepared in that moment, or prepared in this moment for someone who is waiting.

Blend, Grinding, Machine For Espresso Coffee, Hand Or Mind Of The Operator.

These are the basis of the good coffee that we are going to examine.


The purposes of blends are essentially two:

The first one, purely commercial, is to adapt to a price scale a range of tastes that changes from customer to customer and from region to region.

The second one, purely technical, is to improve the quality of the product and maintain its constancy as time passes.

To obtain a good blend, it is necessary to know how to mix the taste, the aroma and the body of different coffees. The result will be a product with a certain taste, aroma and corpulence that can be constantly reproduced as time passes.

Usually, the more complex is the blend (from 5 to 8 components) the easier is to keep it constant, especially with the rotation of the crops, when some aged components loose some of their main characteristics, while the graft of new crops coffee with marked characteristics is better absorbed by other more aged coffees without altering the harmony of the blend.


This process is fundamental to obtain an excellent drink: a wrong grinding can overheat the blend up to transform an excellent product to burnt powder. If the grinding is too thick, it becomes less soluble and the water flows away without completely extracting the aroma and the taste; if the grinding is too thin, the result will be an excessively strong infusion, sometimes with a burnt taste.
The grinder must therefore be adjusted in order to have an extraction of 25 – 30 seconds for a normal dose. If the time exceeds 30 seconds (over extracted coffee) the grinding must be loosened, if the grinding lasts less than 20 seconds (under extracted coffee) it must be tightened to reduce the water flow passing through the coffee. But pay attention, both the housing and the proportioning device must be periodically cleaned. Coffee incrustations on the shovels of the proportioning device cause lacks of balance to the doses and grease/oil residues cause a growth of rancidity. The check of the proportioning device must be periodically carried out trying at least ten doses and checking if the average corresponds to the base dose. One of the most common mistake is to use a small quantity of ground, with the risk of obtaining an over extracted coffee (minimum suggested dose: gr. 7). A suggestion is to keep in the proportioning device a small quantity of powder (the necessary quantity for 30 minutes work) in order to always have a fresh ground, avoiding to loose the aroma.

Pay attention to the wear and tear of the millstones.

For the grinders with flat millstones, these should be replaced after the grinding of approximately kg. 400 of coffee. For the grinders with conic-shaped millstones, they should be replaced after the grinding of approximately kg. 1200 of coffee.

Machines For Espresso Coffee

TEMPERATURE OF THE WATER FOR THE INFUSION The temperature of the water for the infusion must be between 85°C and 92°C.

PRESSURE IN THE BOILER In order to obtain the above mentioned temperature the pressure in the boiler must be:
Machines with lever: from 1,2 to 1,4 bars
Hydraulic machines or with continuous outflow: from 1,0 to 1,2 bars

PRESSURE OF THE CENTRIFUGAL PUMP The normal value of the pressure must be 9 bars.

DOSE OF GROUND COFFEE The minimum dose of ground coffee must be 6-7 grams.

GROUND PRESSING A correct ground pressing in the filter must correspond to 20 – 25 kg.

INFUSION TIME To reach 25/35 ml of liquid the infusion time must be between 25 and 35 seconds.

TEMPERATURE IN THE CUP The temperature of the coffee in the cup immediately after the infusion must be around 65°C.

PRE-TREATMENT OF WATER An extremely important element for the life of the machine and for a correct preparation of the espresso coffee is certainly the quality of water. If the used water comes from the city waterworks, it must be treated before the use, using carbon filters. As far as water hardness is concerned, this is partially eliminated by the resin softener.

Hand Or Mind Of The Operator It is important to underline that the operator must be very careful to all the above mentioned preparation steps.

FILTERS MAINTENANCE Pay attention to the filters holes that must not widen too much and the edge must not be too damaged by the continuous hits on the drawer.

FILTERS HOLDER It is important to check the lips and remove from them the residues of dry coffee or other incrustations. The bed of the filter holder must be regularly cleaned and the incrustations must be removed.

SHOWER SCREEN It is important to remember that some kinds of espresso machines have a double shower screen that must be cleaned and replaced when necessary.

GASKETS The rubber gaskets must be frequently replaced in order to avoid the solids overflowing into the cup.

WATER SOFTENER The resins must be periodically regenerated by dissolving in the softener 1 kg of coarse salt for each 1500 cups, that correspond to approximately 10 kg of roasted in beans.
The machines with continuous outflow must be often cleaned with the blind filter: a rubber disc must be introduced into the filter and once the filter holder is tightened, the machine must be started.


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