Italian Coffee: The Drink of Intellectuals and a Symbol of Love

It is not known exactly when coffee was discovered, but it is safe to say that its origins are ancient.

In fact, a writing from the 10th century has been found which talks about the use of coffee beans as a medicine.

There are many legends about coffee and the best known is that of a shepherd in Ethiopia, named Kaldi, who noticed that his sheep were very active after eating coffee beans, decided to try them and discovered their exciting/energising power.

Italian espresso

We are unable to say whether the first discovery of coffee and coffee's properties is really due to this Ethiopian shepherd, but what is certain is that, from Ethiopia, the use of coffee spread to Arabia and Egypt centuries before reaching Europe.

The origins of coffee in Europe are Italian, because the first appearance of coffee in Europe dates back to 1570 and concerns the Venetian lagoon.

Specifically, it seems that the coffee was imported by the doctor of the Venetian consul in Egypt, who brought back some sacks of coffee on his return to the Italian peninsula.

Since then, coffee began to be known in Venice among the nobility - because of its high price - and in the medical field, for its many beneficial properties.

The first 'coffee shop', Café Florian, was established in Venice, under the portico overlooking the spectacular Piazza San Marco. It soon found itself up against competition, which is why, in 1716, it published a pamphlet extolling the benefits of coffee.

Only a few decades later, there were more than 200 coffee shops in Venice, and from Venice, coffee spread just as quickly to other Italian cities including Padua, Turin, Rome and Naples.

As you can imagine, the expansion of coffee shops did not stop at Italian borders and coffee soon became a popular drink in many European cities.

Coffee History

The coffee shops gradually acquired more and more prestige because they were habitually frequented by people of prestige and high cultural standing, including men of letters, philosophers and politicians who would gather around a table, with a cup of Italian coffee in hand, to discuss, write and exchange opinions.

As well as being the drink of intellectuals, coffee also became a symbol of love and a gift between loved ones, who exchanged baskets containing coffee and chocolate on special occasions.

The fact that coffee is a symbol of hospitality is linked to its history: initially, coffee was considered by priests to be the 'devil's drink' because of its energising and exciting effects.

It was even proposed that it be excommunicated, insisting that the Pope at the time, Clement VIII, ban its use.

"It is a 'pity' that the Pope, before banning its use, decided to try it and was so fascinated by it that he decided not only not to ban its use, but also to define coffee as a 'Christian drink'.

Italian coffee shop
It seems to be for this very reason that, even today, coffee in Italy is considered a special gift to offer to loved ones and guests!.

Coffee has thus arrived in all regions of Italy, capturing its unique flavour. Whether sweet or bitter, coffee is the product that is never missing from Italian homes.

A tradition passed down from generation to generation, accompanying the most important moments of a family.

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