Be a protagonist of the world’s biggest Italian Espresso event!

Coffee Experience, the world’s biggest Italian Espresso event, is returning again this year to Verona from 7th to 11th April. The figures for 2010 have been impressive: 35 coffee blends available for tasting, more than 7,000 Espresso coffees served over five days.
If you want to put yourself to the test, then send us your application! We are looking for two baristas who will be at the centre of the Coffee Experience scene. We offer our baristas food and accommodation in Italy, and the possibility of a true and unique experience in the world of Italian coffee. Please write to carlo.odello@italiantasters.com.

Caffè Italia, the Italian Espresso event at Foodex 2011, Tokyo

The International Institute of Coffee Tasters will organize a new edition of Caffè Italia, the Italian Espresso event, at Foodex 2011, the most important food exhibition in Japan (Tokyo, Makuhari Messe, Hall 3, booth C01, March 1-4).

The second edition of Caffè Italia will give visitors the opportunity of tasting six different Italian Espresso blends and evaluate them. For the first time visitors will have to judge the espresso blends using a tasting card. Caffè Italia will also host training sessions held by Chihiro Yokoyama.

Carlo Odello, member of the board of the International Institute of Coffee Tasters and communications manager of the Italian Espresso National Institute, will be at Caffè Italia, too. "We aim at spreading the culture of the real Italian Espresso and Caffè Italia is a great opportunity for us – Mr Odello said – Japan proved to be very sensitive to Italian Espresso, we now have more than 300 tasters in the country. We recently launched the Espresso Italiano Tasting classes in China and are looking for partners in other Asian countries such as Korea and Thailand".

Caffè is organized in cooperation with the International Institute of Coffee Tasters – Japan, the Italian Espresso National Institute and the Italian Trade Commission.

For more information: info@coffeetasters.jp, carlo.odello@italiantasters.com.

China: selling coffee starting from the South

by Carlo Odello *

 Chinese people drink wine, they like it. But the wine they drink is French, not Italian…. They are starting to drink coffee, too, and here the risk is that in the future they will not drink Italian espresso, but the espresso of other countries.

Bloomberg reports that in China the per capita consumption of coffee totals about 22 grams per year. Yes, 22 grams (while Japan, a much more mature market, has a per capita consumption of around 3.3 kilos). Chinese people associate coffee to Western lifestyle, and this is why they drink it. But they are certainly not absent-minded consumers. Accustomed to a highly complex and refined cuisine, they are now discovering the sensory potential of coffee.

Where do we start then, with Italian espresso in China? Shanghai and Beijing are an immediate solution, but there are more interesting prospects in the region of Guangdong, in the South. Guangzhou, also known as Canton, is the capital of this region which is almost twice the size of Italy, with a population of 17 million people. Guangzhou is the third largest city in China. If a food product sells well in Guangzhou, it sells well all over China. The same phenomenon does not necessarily occur when a product sells well in Shanghai or Beijing.

This is why the International Institute of Coffee Tasters started its training courses in Guangzhou. We completed the first Coffee Taster Licensing course last December, and another will soon be held.

* Trainer and member of the board of the International Institute of Coffee Tasters

Professional Master of Coffee Science and Sensory Analysis

The 2011 Professional Master of Coffee Science and Sensory Analysis will be held in Brescia (Italy) from June 27 to July 1. The Professional Master will be taught in English.

The goal of this Professional Master is of providing, through sensory analysis, criteria and practical application tools for orientating production, along the whole production process, towards the achievement of a product able to ensure customers’ maximum pleasure.

Practical training will explain and illustrate the tools for recognizing through senses qualities and defects in the cup, how to obtain maximum sensory potential in extraction at the coffee shop, sensory analysis tests for assessing quality and stability of production result and, finally, sensory analysis data and the specific tests for fast selection of green coffee, roasting and blending methods, supported by scientific confidence. The whole with the aim of achieving consumers’ best satisfaction at cup stage.

More information: please download the form.


First Espresso Italiano Tasting courses in China: Guangzhou, Shanghai and Beijing

The first Espresso Italiano Tasting courses will be held in China in Guangzhou (December 27-28), Shanghai (December 30-31) and Beijing (Jan 1-2).

Carlo Odello, trainer and member of the board of the International Institute of Coffee Tasters, will teach the classes. Mr Odello will also attend the Coffee Expo in Guangzhou (December 23-26).

The courses are organized in cooperation with Coffee Secret Company. For more information please get in touch with Mr Darcy Sun Kai: +86 (20) 62352855, darcysunkai@gmail.com.

International Coffee Tasting 2010: all the winners

The third edition of International Coffee Tasting, the international coffee contest organized by the International Institute of Coffee Tasters, ended on October 27. For two days, 27 tasters from nine different countries (Italy, Japan, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia, Sweden, Switzerland, Serbia, Germany) evaluated 121 coffees from Italy, Germany, Mexico, Poland, Slovenia, Spain, Switzerland, Thailand, and the USA.

The major types of coffee competed for their place: espresso bar, moka, pods, capsules, and filter. All products were prepared by professional baristas and evaluated anonymously by the tasters who recorded their scores on taste cards. These were then processed statistically.

"Espressos of extraordinary elegance are appearing on the coffee scene. Espressos that no longer amaze with a luxurious, full body and oodles of crema but seduce us with an incredible freshness and remarkable aromatic complexity” – commented Luigi Odello, the General Secretary of the International Institute of Coffee Tasters and Professor of Sensory Analysis at several universities in Italy and abroad. "These products certainly represent the cutting edge in the future of high-quality espresso, especially in those countries where espresso is not traditionally consumed”.

“There has also been a considerable improvement in the single-dose coffee sector”, Odello adds. “In fact, now we have pods that allow for the optimal extraction of coffee and innovative capsules, both frequently conceived for restaurant coffee menus”.

The Winners

Italian Blends for Espresso

  • Caffè Qualità Oro – La Genovese, Albenga (SV)
  • Bar – Caffen, Napoli
  • Bar 100% Arabica – Holly Caffè, Città di Castello (PG)
  • Caffè Tonino Lamborghini – Officina Gastronomica, Parma (PR)
  • Miscela Degustazione – Trismoka, Paratico (BS)
  • Cinquestelle – Caffè Cartapani, Brescia
  • Extra Bar – Caffè Fantino, Peveragno (CN)
  • Superoro – Caffè Cagliari, Modena (MO)
  • Oro Oro – Torrefazione Caffè Gran Salvador, Brescia
  • Natura Equa Bio Fairtrade – Caffè Agust, Brescia
  • Caffè Alberto Miscela Pappagallo Rosso – Taurocaf, Caselle Torinese (TO)
  • Caffè Elite Bar 100% Arabica – Italcaffè, La Spezia
  • Faraglia Espresso 100% Arabica – Torrefazione Olimpica, S. Rufina Cittaducale (RI)
  • Espresso Bendinelli 100% Arabica Gourmet – Caffè Roen, Verona
  • Olimpia – Torrefazione Parenti, Bologna
  • Noir – Paladini, Borgo San Lorenzo (FI)
  • Master Club Coffee – Costadoro, Torino
  • Pelourinho 100% Arabica – Magazzini del Caffè, Brescia
  • Super Bar – Torrefazione S. Salvador, Villa di Tirano (SO)
  • Battistino – Torrefazione Caffè Michele Battista, Triggiano (BA)

Non Italian Single Origins And Blends for Espresso

  • Barcaffè Prestige 100% Arabica – Droga Kolinska, Slovenia
  • Espresso Single Origin Malawi Mzuzu Geisha Viphya – Adesso, Poland
  • P&F Espresso Blend – P&F Coffee Limited, Thailand
  • Bizzarri Blend – 100% Arabica Coffee – Caffè Umbria, USA
  • Bacio Espresso Miscela Italiana – Bontà, Mexico
  • Extra Milano – Massimo Cerutti, Switzerland
  • P&F Splendid Espresso Blend – P&F Coffee Limited,Thailand

Single Origins or Blends for Italian Moka

  • Oro Oro – Torrefazione Caffè Gran Salvador, Brescia
  • Gayo Mountain Sumatra Indonesia – Corsino Corsini, Badia al Pino (AR)
  • Caffè Alberto Miscela Espresso Casa 100% Arabica – Taurocaf, Caselle Torinese (TO)

Single Origins or Blends in Pods or Capsules

  • Bacio Pods – Bontà, Mexico
  • Caffè Morettino 100% Arabica Espresso – Angelo Morettino, Palermo
  • Espresso Made In Italy – Caffè Agust, Brescia
  • Costadoro Coffee Pod – Costadoro, Torino
  • Caffè Roen Cialda Monodose – Caffè Roen, Verona
  • Cialda Densacrema – Zicaffè, Marsala (TP)

Single Origins or Blends for Filter Coffee

  • Barcaffè Filter 100% Arabica – Droga Kolinska, Slovenia

New Espresso Italiano Tasting course in The Netherlands

The International Institute of Coffee Tasters in cooperation with Koffiekoning will organize the first Espresso Italiano Tasting course in The Netherlands. The course will take place in IJsselstein on November 30.

For more information about the course, please visit the website of the International Institute of Coffee Tasters.

For applying or getting more information about the price, please get in touch with:

  • Tim Vogt:  tim@koffiekoning.nl, mobile +31 6 5026 8819
  • Paul Verbunt: ph +31 30 6876087, mobile +31 6 3889 0789

Espresso Italiano Tasting seminars in Seattle, WA

The International Institute of Coffee Tasters, in collaboration with Caffè Umbria, will bring its Espresso Italiano Tasting seminar to Seattle this fall. Carlo Odello, board member and trainer of the Institute, will explain the characteristics of a true Italian espresso and the correct methods of evaluation. The seminar will open with an introduction to sensory analysis of Italian espresso through the analysis of the main stages of evaluation: visual, olfactory, gustatory-tactile and aftertaste. In the aroma portion of the course, we will explore the fundamental aromas and most frequent flaws and their causes. With the help of the Italian Espresso Trialcard, the official espresso evaluation guide of the International Institute of Coffee Tasters and the Italian Espresso National Institute, we will taste, compare and discuss three different espresso extractions. 

Each seminar includes:

  • Espresso Italiano Tasting, the official manual of the International Institute of Coffee Tasters
  • The Italian Espresso Trialcard, the official espresso evaluation guide
  • Three espressos for the purpose of instruction
  • Certificate of Attendance

Dates and times:

  • Saturday, October 30, 9:30 to 12:30
  • Sunday, October 31, 9:30 to 12:30

Registration Deadline: October 4, 2010

For more information and registration, please click here or write to annamaria@caffeumbria.com

The perfect espresso: a caresse, not a punch

by Pasquale Madeddu *

Today I would like to talk about espresso, and specifically about preparing and serving a good espresso, or even better, a perfect espresso in your restaurant. We have had several great meals here in Anaheim, but we haven’t had any great espresso served at a restaurant. Every time, the espresso has been prepared and presented poorly. That means that we (coffee roasters) still have a lot of training to do to help the restaurant people prepare, serve and present a perfect espresso. Coffee roasters and restaurant owners need to work more closely together to establish guidelines and ongoing training for staff.

It is with this final taste experience that your customers will leave your establishment. So, I would like to present a few tips on preparing and presenting this great drink that has become as popular in the United States as it is in Italy.

The two most important considerations for a perfect espresso are preparation and presentation. These are very critical, especially after the coffee roaster has done so much work in choosing the beans, preparing the blend, roasting and packaging, and sending it to the restaurant. Once at the restaurant, the coffee also needs to be stored properly.

Sometimes we talk about coffee as being similar to wine. A lot of time and expertise goes into creating a great bottle of wine, but once the wine has been shipped to the restaurant, it just needs to be opened. In the event a red wine is selected, you let it breathe and it is ready to pour. If the wine is good, if the winemaker did all the right things, you will enjoy a great bottle of wine.

But for us, the coffee roasters, and for the coffee, it’s a different situation. There is art and science involved in choosing the beans, making the blend of coffee, roasting it to maximize flavor, packaging, storing, and sending it to the restaurant. What happens once it gets to the restaurant? In many restaurants our carefully roasted coffee is  prepared with machines that are not clean, giving the espresso a burnt or bitter taste. The espresso is over-extracted or has no crema. The espresso is served without a demitasse spoon or sugar.

For example, just this week, I had an espresso served with an iced tea spoon. I have seen a lot of things, but I have never seen that!

At another 4-star restaurant, we had an espresso served in a cappuccino cup. The espresso was over-extracted, and was served without the sugar bowl or spoon, and a lemon twist.

Just as you would never serve a steak without a steak knife, or wine in a tall water glass, there are guidelines to follow when serving espresso. Our task as roasters is to educate and inform so that this great drink is prepared and served in the best possible way.

When we talk about espresso, we are referring to an Italian-style espresso made with a blend of coffee. A true Italian-style espresso or espresso all’Italiana, by tradition and definition, always means a coffee prepared with a coffee blend.

An Italian-style espresso is one that follows the standards and guidelines established by two organizations in Italy: the International Institute of Coffee Tasters (IIAC), and the Italian Espresso National Institute (INEI). These two organizations have done extensive research with Italian consumers and professionals to establish exact guidelines for the typical Italian-style espresso.

In Italy, we are very passionate about espresso. People have arguments in bars discussing how good or bad the espresso is or where to drink the best espresso in town. Sometimes, even in the bar around the corner from my house, if the young son of the owner is behind the bar, it’s not uncommon for customers to send him to get his father to prepare the espresso because they think the son can ruin the preparation. It is only one ounce of coffee, but it needs to prepared with passion and artistry.

Carlo Odello of the Italian Espresso National Institute is here with us today. As an advocate for Italian-style espresso, he often explains that espresso needs to be a caress, not a punch. Espresso has a social aspect, and it needs to be very delicate. It has caffeine, but also needs to be well-rounded with a clean and elegant finish. Sometimes you get an espresso, and it really wakes you up, but is that the only reason we drink an espresso?

At Caffè Umbria we follow the standards of the International Institute of Coffee Tasters (IIAC) and the Italian Espresso National Institute (INEI). These two organizations grade the espresso in four different areas: the visual aspect, the taste profile, the aroma, and the aftertaste.

The visual aspect of an espresso is what the espresso needs to look like. It needs to have a rich brown (hazelnut) color crema, the crema needs to be dense and compact, without air bubbles. The crema should not show any white marks and should definitely not show liquid underneath.

The aroma of an Italian-style espresso needs to be rich and intense but not have an overly roasted flavor, it should be of a full body, elegant and clean.

The taste profile should be well rounded, with well-balanced acidity and bitterness. Bitterness is a component of the espresso taste profile, so it is not necessarily bad to have some bitterness in an espresso as long as it does not overwhelm.

In many bars in Italy, it is the custom to serve a glass of water with the espresso, in order to rinse the palate prior to drinking the espresso, so that you will leave with the taste of coffee lingering on your palate. You should not have to drink the water afterwards to rinse out the taste of an espresso that was too strong, too syrupy, very bitter, or over-roasted. This is the after taste, which needs to be pleasant and clean, you should enjoy the lingering taste.

I have talked about what an espresso should look like and taste like, and now I would like to talk about what you need in order to prepare a perfect espresso. Three things are essential to achieve the perfect espresso preparation: the coffee blend, well-maintained equipment, and trained baristas.

You need to have good equipment that is well-maintained and clean. I often check espresso machines that have not been cleaned in months, that are not calibrated correctly, where no water passes through the screens.

Good barista training is essential in order to achieve rapid and consistent results. After all, espresso means ‘veloce’, which means fast: espresso should be served fast and hot. This is manly the responsibility of the coffee roaster, the people that sell the coffee and implement the coffee program. Here in the United States, especially in coffee houses, coffee roasters have done a great job of training baristas in the last ten years, so you can get a really good espresso. We need to make this same sort of effort with the busboys, waiters, baristas, and anyone who prepares and serves espresso in a restaurant.

As a traditional Italian-style coffee roaster, we prepare blends of coffees from different origins. In Italy, there is practically no market for single origin coffees; every roaster works with blends of coffee. They believe, as we do, that only in this way can you achieve a well-rounded, well-balanced, very interesting type of coffee for your espresso. To describe the difference between a single origin espresso and one made with a blend, it is useful to think of the difference between a soloist and a symphony: they are both good, but there is a difference between them.

As roasters, we need to explain the importance of clean equipment on the restaurant owners. The responsibility for cleaning the machine should rest with the owners. The roaster should provide training, and can also lend their knowledge and experience in the choice of equipment. The type of equipment used in a restaurant or hotel facility is very important in order to achieve the best preparation. Our recommendation is for a restaurant is a regular espresso machine, but in meeting areas, convention centers, meeting rooms or other hotel facilities, perhaps it’s more appropriate to install a super automatic espresso machine or a machine that uses pods. Often the people making coffee in these areas are not as well-trained, so these machines will ensure a level of consistency.

The most important on the list is the barista, as he is the one that is going to put it all together. Barista training is one of the expectations that the restaurant owner should have from their coffee company. The training should include good knowledge of the coffee they are serving, the maintenance and cleaning of the machine, and of course drink preparation. Baristas should know what the coffee tastes like. Often the people serving the coffee don’t like coffee, or don’t drink coffee, but I think it’s important for them to taste it in order to prepare it properly.

Finally, once all the pieces are in place, we are ready to present the espresso. The espresso should be the last thing that is served at the table, after the dessert. If the customer asks to have them served at the same time, we should comply, but we should avoid serving the coffee before the dessert. The espresso should be the last thing that is served before you leave the table.

A proper presentation of the espresso includes a saucer, a demitasse spoon, and sugar served on the side. Unfortunately, I have had some restaurants serve the espresso without a saucer. One of my pet peeves is to have rock sugar served with an espresso. The rock sugar looks great, but how long does it take to melt the sugar in the espresso? You have to pound the rock sugar with your teaspoon for minutes in order to dissolve in the liquid, and by the time the sugar is dissolved the espresso is cold. If you are serving rock sugar, at least give the option of regular sugar so I can decide if I want a nice rock sugar and cold coffee, or if I want regular sugar in a nice hot coffee.

Another thing that I have never seen in Italy or anywhere else but here in the United States is the lemon twist served with the espresso. Ah, the lemon twist was big in some nice restaurants, right? I can tell you that lemon doesn’t have anything to do with an espresso, so please do not serve lemon twist with the espresso, save it for the cocktails.

Finally, I would like to share some ways you can implement your espresso program in the restaurant. You can have your standard café menu, which has the basic drinks such as
Espresso, Macchiato, Cappuccino, Caffè Latte, Latte Macchiato, Mocha and Americano.

The espresso drink you don’t see often over here is the Latte Macchiato. It is popular in Europe and in Italy, and it’s the opposite of Espresso Macchiato. Macchiato means stained, so an Espresso Macchiato is an espresso that has been ‘stained’ with milk. Latte Macchiato, for those people who don’t want to have too much espresso or caffeine, is a glass of steamed milk with a very short shot of espresso on top. The espresso shot poured over the milk leaves the stain of the crema on top.

You can also have an espresso specialty drink menu. Some of the drinks popular from Italy are: Marocchino, Espresso Corretto and Affogato al Caffè. Espresso Corretto is my personal after dinner favorite. It is an espresso ‘corrected’ with a splash grappa or Sambuca. Affogato al Caffè is a good combination of dessert and coffee: a nice cup of vanilla gelato ‘drowned’ with espresso.

There are also several espresso cocktails that will work well in a restaurant setting. For example, the Espresso Martini, the Mojito, Espresso Saronno (very traditional in Italy with Amaretto di Saronno liqueur), American Wings and Caffè Olandese (made with an egg liqueur like Vov).

The Perfect Espresso, a combination of the right blend of coffee, good equipment, excellent training, and a beautiful presentation (don’t serve it with an iced tea spoon). I hope I gave you some insight about espresso all’italiana.

Enjoy your espresso, arrivederci!

* Transcript of the presentation held at the SCAA Exhibition 2010 in Anaheim, California. Pasquale Madeddu is a coffee taster and the sales manager of Caffè Umbria. Equipped with a state-of-the-art roaster and a great passion for blending and roasting, Caffè Umbria produces five boutique Italian-style blends, including the classic espresso blend, Gusto Crema.

Italian Baristas, a little celebrity and a little voodoo

by Carlo Odello *

In New York I recently had the pleasure of meeting Anne Nylander and Neil Oney, President and Vice President respectively of Tamp Tamp, a consulting and training company for the coffee business.  They have a blog from which you can get a good cross-section of coffee reality in the Big Apple (and not only that).  And in this blog, there recently appeared a discussion about that which was effectively defined as Voodoo Barista.  Who is this figure?   Here is a synthetic and effective description: he works in an inconsistent manner, wastes resources, isn’t able to dose the correct amount of coffee in the filter and to tamp it with careful detail, he becomes confused doing all of this and in the end, tries to somehow pour an espresso.

In California in April, I attended an interesting debate in which the coffee trends of the American market were highlighted.  Among these trends emerged, more and more explosively, the Celebrity Barista.  He can tell you to go to hell.  Let me explain myself: if you enter his place and as good Italians you ask him for something that doesn’t quite fit his vision of coffee, at the least he will give you a dirty look, maybe not even prepare it for you.  This is because he, (or she as I have seen in New York) is the star of his or her coffee shop, and how dare anyone ask for a variation on his or her theme: he or she decides what you should drink.

Now in Italy, not to miss out on anything, we find ourselves at the mercy of these baristas, half Celebrity and half Voodoo.  That is to say at the mercy of Mr. Know-it-alls who are in reality some big bunglers.  A precise statistic doesn’t exist on how many there are, but certainly they are not rare.

* Trainer and member of the board of the International Institute of Coffee Tasters