lunedì, aprile 21, 2008

espresso DOC

espresso DOC

Posted by natashalardera

Even though Italy is not a producer of coffee, espresso has become one of the symbols of the much-coveted Made in Italy lifestyle worldwide. Indeed it has become a rather popular specialty that is often copied, oftentimes unsuccessfully, by others. Although called espressos, these concoctions have nothing that resembles the original drink, thus undermining its fame.

On July 6, 1998, after a three-year research study performed by the International Institute of Coffee Tasters and the Tasters Foundation in collaboration with the professors of the Universities of Udine and Torino, the National Institute of Italian Espresso (Inei) was founded with the purpose to protect and promote espresso’s pedigree.

In less than a year, the Institute has developed a system to identify original Italian espresso. Bars and coffeehouses will have to showcase the Espresso Italiano logo in order to assure their clients that they are serving the right thing.

In order to obtain the right to do so, bar owners must follow these rules:

Use a certified blend.
Purchase certified equipment (machines and grinders).
Employ trained personnel.

Only those who comply with these rules can say to be making real Espresso Italiano. At the moment about 1000 bars all through Italy sport the precious logo.

In order to understand better let’s look closer at the facts.

Certified Italian espresso is a drink prepared following the rules of the Inei. It must be made with a blend of toasted beans of diverse origin, freshly grounded, and prepared in a specific way in order to have certain organoleptic characteristics.

Its appearance is of a hazelnut-colored cream with tawny streaks and no bubbles. It has an intense and lasting aroma with some tones of flowers, fruit, toasted bread and chocolate. On the palate it is round and velvety, with a good balance between acidity and bitterness.

Espresso Italiano is by definition and tradition made with the great combination of coffees of different origin. That’s the only way to get a pleasant aromatic richness and full body. The difference between an Italian espresso and a coffee prepared in the same way but with only one kind of coffee is comparable to the difference between a spectacular symphony and the concert of a soloist. We cannot judge what is best but certainly they are two different things.

Of course the bartender preparing the coffee must have a certain expertise and knowledge. He is the one who chooses and uses the machines and the blends. His goal is to make the best espresso possible. Inei offers several training classes for all professionals.

Following on these steps, another staple of Italian coffeehouses is looking for its seal of quality: cappuccino. Indeed this past year a motion has been presented to the Government and is still waiting for approval.

Inei’s studies prove that high quality and traditional cappuccino is made with 25 ml. of certified Italian espresso and 125 ml. of milk warmed with steam from a temperature of 5°C to 55°C. Always, the milk must be poured over the espresso and served in a cup of about 150 ml.

The look of real cappuccino is of a brown circle with white foam in the middle. Often this foam is marked by brownish streaks and small decorations prepared by the bartender himself. The foam has really small, almost invisible, bubbles. Its aroma reminds of flowers but mostly of warm milk, toasted caramel, chocolate, and dried fruit. Its body is full and rich with a well-balanced acidity.

Watch out for these mistakes in the preparation of cappuccino:

The bartender should always clean the machine and should always use fresh milk, not reuse the leftovers from previous cappuccinos. The milk should be simply warmed up not brought to a boil and must be poured after the coffee not before. Another important point, the espresso must be good in order for the cappuccino to be good.

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