14 Mar 2020

Italian coffee vs American coffee

Article written by Michele Sergio and published in Rome on 01 March 2020

Coffee is culture, coffee is a habit. Country you go, coffee you find. Unlike what many Italians think – and that is that coffee is espresso while all the others (ways of preparing it) are not good, in fact, they are undrinkable “drinks” – there are many ways of preparing infused black, each with their own history, precise rules and faithful admirers. Today, however, there is an increasing curiosity on the part of Italians towards foreign coffees and in particular towards the American one which, probably, is the one that most differs from the Italian one. In the collective imagination when we think of American coffee we think of that, seen in many films, contained in the paper cup in the hands of the hundreds of pedestrians who crowd the New York streets or what the waitress pours from a sort of jug to the customers of the locals. Actually in the States we drink filter coffee or infusion of coffee prepared with a technique consisting of pouring hot water on the coffee powder contained in a filter (usually paper) placed in a dripper or dripper to let it percolate inside a binder or jug ​​(bowl).

But how do you prepare it? As for machines, the most popular and widespread in homes and offices is the filter coffee machine, although it must be said that the V60 manual and the Chemex have also been re-evaluated in recent years. This last glass ampoule, in the shape of an hourglass, separated in the center by a piece of wood that forms the handle (this shape gives the opportunity to make the coffee oxygenate to enhance its aromas), was invented in 1941 by Peter Schlumbohm and had so successful that it is even exhibited at Moma in NYC because it was considered one of the best designed products of the 1900s.

For the preparation, ground the coffee (the proportion is about 60 gr per liter of water), pour it into a thick paper or bamboo filter, previously wet, with water between 93 and 96 degrees Celsius, with a swan-beak kettle whose shape prevents the formation of channels and eliminates the cellulose flavor. Then the water is poured over the ground coffee and when all the water is percolated the filter is removed (containing the exhausted coffee powder) and we can taste our coffee

The main difference between our coffee and the American one is in the beans: where for the espresso a blend with Arabica and robust species with dark roasting and fine grinding is used, for the American coffee an Arabica is used, with light and light roasting / medium and coarser grind. The result, of course, is that the espresso is more full-bodied and creamy while the American is a real infusion.

Which is more good to ask? Impossible to answer with certainty of the rest of de tastebus non disputandum est. However, it must be said that Americans have approached coffee in recent years taking Italian style as their model. There are now many stars and stripes chains of coffee shops that have been inspired by an Italian coffee shop concept and then acquired their own autonomy and personality. In short, if for years we believed we were untouchable in terms of coffee, today we are no longer alone and we have to deal with overseas competitors.

Globalization and the progressive reduction of distances suggest, more and more, not to cling to invoking our history but, more realistically, to open up to new trends and new tastes in respect, always and obviously, of our secular traditions, also defending them with requests for protection. . This is important in order to be able to confront each other with the other coffees prepared in the rest of the world.