22 Feb 2018

The bartender in Naples

Article by Michele Sergio published in L’Espresso Napoletano of the month February 2018

The bartender’s one of the most common jobs in our city; nothing surprising considering that Naples is among the cities with the highest density of bars and cafes in the world. More specifically, the figure that most distinguishes between the Neapolitan bartender is that of the machinist, of the coffee machine operator, a real deus ex machina (it is appropriate to say!) Of every Bar!

The Neapolitan driver is different from each other for various reasons.

For the baggage of experience that acquires in a short time first, since, unlike elsewhere, the bar in Naples is essentially a cafeteria to meet the daily demand, really high, of espresso coffee by the Neapolitans (our city holds the per capita coffee consumption record in Italy, equal, on average, to 5 coffees a day).

Secondly because of the peculiarity of his work when it is important to note that the Neapolitan espresso differs considerably from that of other parts of Italy in terms of technologies, procedures and methods, customs and mixtures.

Only in Naples, to begin with, the machine for making espresso coffee is the lever machine where, in the rest of Europe, the automatic machine (or, better said, continuous supply) reigns supreme. The lever machine gives the barman more freedom in preparation and allows him to prepare more coffee at the same time; it will be less modern than the automatic ones, but it will make the preparation of the drink creative, emancipate the driver from the role of a simple programmer / performer, to which the automatic machine confines it.

In terms of use, then, it is Neapolitan tradition to serve coffee in the hot cup, so that the attention of those who drink it is kept awake (not to burn yourself): coffee in Naples is not absent-mindedly drink, those few fingers of drink must be carefully siped, savored with participatory intensity.

Finally, we arrive at the famous Neapolitan blend (balanced and wise mix of excellent different coffee qualities) and methods of obtaining it, through slow high temperature roasting.

Neapolitan espresso coffee: unique and unmistakable, as unique and specialists are Neapolitan machinists.

This and much historical and cultural heritage has rightly inspired in recent weeks the launch, at Gran Caffè Gambrinus, of the collection of signatures for the UNESCO candidacy of Neapolitan espresso coffee. After the recognition obtained from Neapolitan pizza it is now the turn of our coffee, of an immaterial good that deserves as much attention and international protection.

The espresso of our city is copied all over the world, but not with similar results, because it is not prepared with the same art, not with the same spirit, not with the same heart that only our batender, the Neapolitan machinists, succeed to infuse you. Even when machines and similar mixtures, the espresso prepared in every other part that is not Naples is different than ours, compared to what every tourist visiting our city wants to try at least once – but never limited to a tasting only – convinced, without making mistakes, to live a unique taste and cultural experience.

A true institution of the Neapolitan society, the Neapolitan espresso definitely deserves the UNESCO recognition, like the Viennese Coffee and the Turkish Coffee which (perhaps not everyone knows) received the “title”, respectively, in 2011 and 2013. We are convinced that every Neapolitan and all the lovers around the world think that the recognition of the humanity heritage of our espresso coffee is (at least) equally deserved.

It is only to be hoped that the Cafés and Bars all of Naples, the best cultural, social and administrative forces, support the candidacy in a compact manner, so as to add a new, additional and precious element of luster, recognition and excellence of our city ”‹”‹and its historical and unique flavors.