There are quite a lot of myths surrounding “Italian coffee.” We’ve already discussed the role of marketing and the myth that Italy’s water makes superior coffee. We also debunked the idea that Italian coffee is a homegrown product. There’s one more misconception I want to address: The belief that Italians drink strong coffee.
The typical cup of coffee consumed by Italians of all generations is an espresso shot. Giving credit where it’s due, Italians invented espresso and introduced it to the rest of the world. The elements of a perfect espresso – 7 grams of finely ground coffee, the right volume of water, and exact temperature and pressure settings – have become standard all over the world. So, an espresso brewed by a professional barista in Italy is essentially the same thing as one made by any equally experienced barista from London to Lebanon.
So why do Italians think that the coffee they think is particularly strong? The reason is that many coffee drinkers mistake bitterness for strength. It’s easy to do, as the unpleasant levels of bitterness typical of poor quality coffee overwhelm the tastebuds. It's a sensation easily, but incorrectly, attributed to the coffee’s strength. Many people are so used to bitter coffees that they’re unable to tell a strong coffee from a bitter one.
Strength is measured by the amount of coffee that’s dissolved into water. It’s the same as brewing tea – the more tea you use and the longer you steep it, the more tea particles dissolve into the water. So with coffee, the higher ratio of coffee to water you use, the stronger the coffee will be. If there's more coffee in the machine, more of it will get dissolved.
With a standard 7-gram shot of coffee used to prepare a single espresso shot, the strength is pretty uniform regardless of the type of coffee used. In Italy, coffee usually has some Robusta beans in the blend, or is roasted really dark, or both. These factors result in overly bitter-tasting coffee, but do nothing to change the strength of a standard espresso shot.
When customers discover the taste of specialty grade arabica beans, they often find the coffee they produce more delicate than the standard mass market brew, and thankfully so. Eliminating the bitterness associated with low-quality coffee allows you to taste the natural taste of the coffee bean and appreciate its unique character and flavour. To discover more about the flavours coffee has to offer, please visit our coffee pages on our website by pressing the link below.