Article written by Michele Sergio and published in L’Espresso Napoletano of January 2019
Coffee is a constantly evolving world, a dynamic market. Globalization and technology have changed and are constantly changing habits, customs and tastes. Thirty or even twenty years ago for an Italian coffee was only the one prepared with moka (with the exception of a few purists who continued to prepare it with the most traditional Neapolitan cuccumella). They dominated the great cafés of the urban centers, while the roasting companies were very different from the current ones, without international scope, with limited productions, in most cases, to the only coffee toasted in grains or in powder. For about a decade the moka has been joined by modern and practical coffee machines in pod and capsule, more and more functional and efficient and with an attractive design. The offer of organic and mono-origin coffee spreads like wildfire. The foreign giants (both the production industries and the American coffee chains), then, are gaining more and more visibility and slices of the Italian market, also through social events, cultural initiatives, tasting events, training courses that, by now, they recall the interest and attention of the Italian sector workers as well.
Naples, the capital of coffee, the leading city of drink consumption and the incessant proposition of new recipes and variations to the traditional espresso, does not, it seems, is actually moving in order to continue to claim and defend its historical record and cultural. The Neapolitans who have been working for generations in the sector, becoming aware of this, are beginning to cultivate an ambitious and important dream: to make the Neapolitan espresso a product I.G.P. (protected geographical indication) like other excellent Italian products. To achieve it we believe it is necessary to follow a demanding road that passes through various steps.
Before anything else, it is necessary to “recognize” Neapolitan coffee, which for its history, blend, tradition, preparation and way of tasting it, is unique and is clearly different from coffee in every other part of Italy. In this sense, it would be fundamental to set up an association structure, of producers and operators, with the aim of protecting, protecting and promoting the Neapolitan espresso, the Neapolitan blend, however “treated”, with the professional bar machine and with those for domestic use. It is therefore essential to have a shared discipline that identifies with certainty the essential elements for obtaining a great Neapolitan espresso. Starting from the mixture – with the indication of the best combination of arabica and robust quality of the highest quality, of the permitted places of origin, time and temperature of cooking of the coffee beans – to finish the preparation methods – with indication of the allowed machines, optimal ways to use them, dosages of water and coffee powder, the types of cups to be used and so on. It goes without saying that the specification should also “regulate” the recipes of the many gourmet coffees born and tasted in Naples (from Nocciola to Scarfariello, from Barbajata – dear to Gioacchino Rossini – to Caffè Babà, just to name a few).
You can not aspire to great goals, in any field, without a great professional competence, the daughter of an adequate and finalized training. Here is the need to create training organizations where aspiring bartenders and coffee experts, have the opportunity to learn everything about Neapolitan coffee, from the cultivation of the shrub to the cup, even through internships at coffee roasters.
Many Neapolitans believe that in our city there is no museum, that of coffee, precisely. Imagine a Neapolitan Coffee Experience or a sensorial journey of the beloved cup, from the sight of the shrubs, fruits and beans and the prepared coffee, to the tactile sensations of grains and powders, to the olfactory perceptions of the aromas to the satisfaction of the taste of the long-awaited cup.
We are also orphans of an event of great visibility and attractiveness on coffee in the City, a Coffee Festival, perhaps on the model of the annual Pizza Village, with exhibition and demonstration areas, for producers, operators and workers.
After the Neapolitan pizza the times are very mature to nominate the Neapolitan coffee to the intangible heritage of UNESCO humanity, to propose the Neapolitan espresso as a worthy product of equal international attention and protection. Our coffee is unique: even if copied all over the world, nowhere is the same as ours, because it is not prepared with the art, the spirit, the passion, the heart that only Neapolitan bartenders can infuse you.
In short, the Neapolitan espresso is the Espresso par excellence, true institution