Registrations Open for the International Coffee Tasting 2016, the World Coffee Tasting Competition

The eighth edition of the International Coffee Tasting will be held in Brescia (Italy) on October, 18-19. The commissions of the International Institute of Coffee Tasters (iiac), the scientific and independent association that concentrates exclusively on the sensory analysis of the coffee, will meet in Brescia to evaluate samples of coffees coming from all over the world.

International Coffee Tasting 2016 accepts coffee in all different styles, from espresso beans to capsules, from pods to filter coffee. Each company participating to the competition will receive its ranking and the sensory profile of its own product. The winners will be entitled to use the official logo of the competition on the winning products.

The international Coffee Tasting 2016 is open to coffee roasters from all around the world. Coffee roasters can submit their applications within the 1st of October.

The competition is organized by International Institute of Coffee Tasters (Iiac) with the cooperation of the Italian Tasters – Centro Studi Assaggiatori (Csa) and the support of Iiac Japan, Iiac Korea, Iiac Taiwan and Iiac China under the patronage of the International Academy of Sensory Analysis (Iasa).

More information:

Flavors, coffee seeds maturity and fashion trends​


By Luigi Odello, chairman of the International Institute of Coffee Tasters (Iiac)

The biological world, on which we rely on for food and many of life’s pleasures, is selfish. We should not think that fruits develop flavors for the enjoyment of humans. Actually, they do so as a means to find “collaborators” for the propagation of their species. Consequently, until the seeds are ripe we shouldn’t dream of an appealing flavor, and we shouldn’t expect a rewarding tactile or taste sensation. Only when the seeds are ripe, and the plants reduce their defenses against external attacks do the fruits become sweeter and reduce their astringency. Unfortunately, most of the fruits that are available commercially are acidic, sometimes astringent and often flavorless, because (amongst other reasons) they have been picked too early. 

This is a straightforward concept, but historically various trends have managed to quietly push against it. Remembering wines of the 80’s, there was a movement that encouraged the picking of grapes before the point of physiological maturity. A little acidity was convenient and the wines were surely easier to preserve. The results however weren’t great.

Now this is happening to coffees, sometimes by necessity and sometimes by lack of competence. On one hand, labor cost increases have lead to mechanical picking wherever possible. The effect of this is that in many places only a small part of the coffee fruits achieve sugar levels of 20 Brix (which is the threshold required to get minimum flavor) and an even smaller part achieves 25 Brix, which is the level necessary for a first class coffee.  In addition to this, to avoid surprises in the logistic chain, many coffee farmers resort now to accelerated drying. In addition to these factors, there is the modern trend of lightly roasting to maintain acidity. Together these lead to a failure to develop even the minimal precursors of flavors that exist in beans.

Some roasters would like the public to believe that coffee that contains a mix of citric and malic acids is the best coffee there can be. Among the supporters of this new trend there are some who, if the coffee has citric acid, will comment that it has citrus notes, and if it has malic acid, they will say it has apple notes. For us, these are reasons to mistrust many representatives of these new trends, and to reaffirm the philosophy of the fathers of our Espresso Italiano: roast slowly and roast fully, using only perfectly mature coffee beans. We’re happy to be out of fashion.

Translated by Cris and Martin at, a Swiss and UK based website dedicated to gourmet Italian coffee and the Italian espresso bar culture.

International Coffee Tasting Asia 2015: registration is open for the international coffee competition​

International Coffee Tasting Asia 2015International Coffee Tasting Asia 2015 returns on the 1st and 2nd December. This international competition is unique in that in order to select the best coffees it relies exclusively on the modern sensory analysis. The 2015 edition, which will be held in Taiwan, is organised by the local branch of the International Institute of Coffee Tasters (Iiac) with technical and scientific support from the CSA Italian Tasters.
In the 2014 edition, 149 coffees from 15 different countries were entered, and then evaluated by 26 international judges. The judges were divided into committees and checked by a sensory analysis software which measured their effectiveness. The coffee tastings were naturally carried out blind to eliminate any possible influences on the judges’ evaluation.
“A competition between coffees must set the objectivity of the evaluations as a prime goal”, commented Luigi Odello, president of the International Institute of Coffee Tasters (Iiac) “Therefore, not only will all the tasters at International Coffee Tasting Asia 2015 be Iiac qualified, but we will also evaluate effectively their reliability”.
The competition is organised with the support of Iiac Korea, Iiac Japan and Iiac Taiwan who are already gathering entries from Asian coffee roasters. Registration is open worldwide.
The rules of International Coffee Tasting Asia 2015 and the registration form for coffees are also available from

For more information, contact:

Italian Espresso certification programme and certification for Espresso Italiano Trainers in October 2015

Espresso Italiano Trainer - International Institute of Coffee TastersNew certification sessions for Italian Espresso and for Espresso Italiano Trainers will take place in Italy from the 19th to the 22nd October 2015, just before the international trade show Host.

The Italian Espresso certification programme is run by the Italian Espresso National Institute (Inei) in cooperation with the International Institute of Coffee Tasters (Iiac). It is made up of two modules (M1 Espresso Italiano Tasting and M2 Espresso Italiano Specialist). The two courses will take place on the 19th and the 20th October and are valid for the Inei’s certification Italian Espresso.

The certification programme for Espresso Italiano Trainers will immediately follow on the 21st and 22nd October. Candidate trainers have to attend two more modules (M3 Senses Brain Sensory Analysis and EIT Espresso Italiano Trainer course). Certified trainers will be entitled to hold the sensory seminar Espresso Italiano Experience on behalf of the Iiac. The content of the seminar includes information on espresso and tasting techniques with the final aim of teaching the students how to assess the quality of Italian coffee. Each student receives a certificate after passing the thoery and tasting exams at the end of the seminar. There are more than 150 Espresso Italiano Trainers in the world.

For more information, please download the PDF or write to


Is caffeine good for us, or for the plant?

Luigi_Odelloby Luigi Odello (president of the International Institute of Coffee Tasters)

When a country does not feel threatened, it dismisses the army. This is precisely what the coffee plant does to caffeine, which in practice represents one of its weapons against attacking diseases. The tendency to produce caffeine is however part of a plant’s genetics, and as such is difficult to change.

However, the Brazilian researcher Mazzafera achieved just this, through genetic manipulation, to obtain a plant that produced no caffeine at all, but when reproduced, this same plant then returned to producing the traditional caffeine content. The fact remains that when the plant no longer needs to defend itself against external attack, it produces less caffeine: the Robusta coffee plant, when grown in a healthy environment, such as at high altitudes, reduces its own production of caffeine.

This is the same case of the Arabica. In a virtually parallel manner, the trend of chlorogenic acids acts in the same way, constituting another essential defence mechanism for any compounds exposed to the risk of mould, as these acids neutralise their enzymes by acting on the protein part. Thus for humans, it is important to obtain coffee from plants that had less need to defend themselves, as doctors generally agree on the maximum recommended daily intake of caffeine: 300 milligrams.

This means that we can actually drink 6 or 7 espresso coffees, if the alkaloid content is around 40-50 milligrams, but we should halve this in the case of coffee with a high caffeine content. Here is another advantage that the world would have passing to Italian Espresso: an Italian moka coffee can contain twice the caffeine and a filter coffee even three times. But we were talking of Italian Espresso: 7 grams of coffee to obtain a cup of 25 millilitres in 25 seconds. Obviously, that changes if we take the case of the recent inventions of 9/10 grams.

Coffee around the world: Guatemala Chimaltenango

We are in deep love with Italian Espresso, but from time to time it is nice to take a look at the way people choose and drink coffee in the world. We are glad to publish this short contribution by Andrea Gersi, an Italian-American coffee roaster that blends its Italian roots with the new American trends.

Guatemala Chimaltenango

A Guatemala Chimaltenango (San Jose Ocana Red Bourbon) roasted by Cuvée Coffee, Austin (Texas). Awesome notes of lavander during the cupping and black fruits. Very silky coffee with a pleasant bitterness. 19 g shot for 27 second at 92.5°C temperature.

Coffee around the world: Congo Kivu

We are in deep love with Italian Espresso, but from time to time it is nice to take a look at the way people choose and drink coffee in the world. We are glad to publish this short contribution by Andrea Gersi, an Italian-American coffee roaster that blends its Italian roots with the new American trends.

Congo Kivu

Beautiful notes of citrus, dark fruits and hibiscus awesome. 18 g shot for 25 seconds at 93°C temperature . Nice body for a single origin, very silky. The crema holds very well and the aftertaste is so pleasant: a very delicate cup . By the way, a very surprisingly cup.

Coffee and milk: Starbucks takes a step backwards

by Carlo Odello

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

In the September/October 2012 issue of the Global Coffee Review, Michelle Gass, Starbucks President EMEA, told about the flavour of the latte (according to the American-style recipe), judged by consumers from United Kingdom as being too…milky. Therefore, Starbucks had to work hard to create the right balance between coffee and milk.

In a recent training course with Japanese students, the Italian cappuccino, made with 25ml of espresso and 125ml of frothed milk, was thought to have a too low olfactory intensity as far as milk was concerned. This is probably due to the fact that in Japan the proportion of milk in coffee-based drinks has become more and more high, according to the American coffee style, where the longer the drink is, the better it will taste.

In short: in recent years, the world of coffee has been diluted by milk, and the Japanese case above shows how this has shaped the sensory trends. However, the fact that Starbucks has decided to take a step backwards gives us cause to hope for a greater balance between coffee and milk.

And, why not, you could even consider moving on from Latte Art, which has now probably reached peaks of graphomaniac autoeroticism, to a more balanced, and complex, Coffee Art.


International Coffee Tasting 2012: The Winners

For two days judges from various countries tasted and assessed coffee from all over the world

Brescia, 7 november – The fourth edition of the International Coffee Tasting held in Brescia on the 29th and 31st October has closed. Coffees from all around the world have been challenging each other. 26 judges from 11 countries were given the task of assessing as many as 113 coffees from 13 countries: the winning products of the competition were chosen from a truly international selection (Editor’s note: the list is below).

"The winning coffees possess an exceptionally wide range of aromas – commented Luigi Odello, president of the International Institute of Coffee Tasters and Professor of Sensory Analysis at various Italian and foreign universities – accompanied by a bold but round and smooth body".

Among the competing products there were also coffee pods and capsules, a phenomenon which has increasingly grown in recent years. It is very interesting to observe how these coffees come very close to perform as espresso, but are still not able to reach its silkiness, rich body and powerful aroma.

"It is equally interesting to see how non Italian espresso roasters are progressing – concluded Odello – Many of them are definitely trying to align themselves with the Italian style ".

The competition sponsors were Wega Macchine per Caffè, Luigi Bormioli and Compak. The competition also enjoyed the patronage of the Italian Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Forestry Policies and of the International Academy of Sensory Analysis.

The winners of International Coffee Tasting 2012 (ex aequo, in alphabetic order with the name of the winning product in brackets)

Espresso – Italian blends

  •  Costadoro, Turin (Coffee Lab)
  • Esperia Distribuzione, Monza Brianza (Caffè Milano)
  • G.I.Fi.Ze, Bologna (Club Kavè)
  • Holly di Ulivieri Raffaele, Perugia (Bar 100% Arabica)
  • Italcaffè, La Spezia (Excelso Bar)
  • La Genovese, Savona (Caffè Anniversario Metal Box)
  • La Genovese, Savona (Caffè Qualità Royal)
  • Milani, Como (Milani Gran Espresso)
  • Mokaor, Vercelli (Intenso)
  • Omkafè, Trento (Superbar blend)
  • Taurocaf di Alberto & Anzola, Turin (Caffè Alberto Pappagallo Rosso Blend)
  • Torrefazione Caffè Gran Salvador, Brescia (100% Arabica CE)
  • Torrefazione Caffè Gran Salvador, Brescia (100% Arabica N)
  • Torrefazione Caffè Roen, Verona (Espresso Bendinelli – 100% Arabica Gourmet)
  • Torrefazione dei F.lli Morandini, Brescia (Maxima Blend 100% Arabica)
  • Torrefazione El Miguel, Varese (La Cafferia – Portofino)
  • Torrefazione Olimpica, Rieti (Faraglia Espresso Barrique)
  • Torrefazione S. Salvador, Sondrio (Super Bar)

Espresso – Non Italian blends or single origins

  • Cafés Dromedario, Spain (Dromedario Colombia Nariño Supremo "El Tambo")
  • Cafés Dromedario, Spain (Pozo Artesania)
  • Cafés Dromedario, Spain (Tostadora Natural Hosteleria)
  • Caffè Principe, Germany (Ottanta)
  • Droga Kolinska, Slovenia (Barcaffè Bar)
  • Gourmet Coffee Roasters, South Africa (Häzz)
  • Milano Coffee, Canada (Espresso # 1)
  • P & F Coffee, Thailand (P & F Espresso Blend)
  • P & F Coffee, Thailand (P & F Splendid Blend)
  • Peaberry, Thailand (House Blend Coffee Roasted)
  • Peaberry, Thailand (Roadster Blend Coffee Roasted)

Coffee pods and capsules

  • Caffè Agust, Brescia (Natura Equa Biofairtrade capsule)
  • Mocoffee, Switzerland (Bel Canto – Strato Coffee Machine)
  • Torrefazione Caffè Roen, Verona (Monodose Capsule)

Coffee for non-professional automatic coffee machines

  • Milani, Como (Milani Guatemala Antigua El Pulcal)

International Coffee Tasting 2012: Some Good Reasons To Join

by Carlo Odello

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

 This year, the International Institute of Coffee Tasters is organising the fourth edition of ‘International Coffee Tasting 2012’, the only international competition among coffees. I have been working as a member of this Institute board of directors for years and I am proud to say that this is maybe the most important event of the association. It is an honour to work organizing it and, honestly, it is also a pleasure to be able to propose this showcase to coffee roasters from all around the world. There are some very good reasons for taking part to this event.

The first one: International Coffee Tasting is truly the only event which focuses on the preparation of coffee. There are other excellent events dealing with the coffee beans, others the baristas, other more or less original preparation methods. On the contrary, we focus our attention on the coffee for the market: the coffee which will be really used by baristas or by coffee lovers at home, in pods and capsules. Who wins the competition, wins the challenge of the market.

The second one: from this year, all winners are involved in the open-day the International Institute of Coffee Tasters will organise in 2013, the year of its 20th anniversary. A day in which all the winning products will be showed to the press and opinion-leaders. This extra visibility is combined with that already achieved by press releases, publishing the winners them on our website and, most importantly, by using the winner’s logo on the coffee bags.

Briefly, International Coffee Tasting 2012 is a competition among the coffees everyone of us can find on the real market, pointing spotlights on the best. We are not making anything up: in the wine world competitions are on the agenda, the big ones have thousands of participants. The returns for wine companies are unbelievable: winning a competition supports the trade policy in an excellent way, it represents an edge over all the others.

In the last three editions, we have helped winners in this very way: to highlight themselves and provide their customers another good reason to buy their products.

Please, find the participation form to International Coffee Tasting 2012 at: