My question is to those barista's in America either on the west coast or the east coast. How is the italian tradition in preparing coffee viewed by you. As far as the cappuccino or espresso is concerned, I ask because I am here in the United States, (from Southern Italy) and though to keep this fair and respectful to all those who love coffee in their styles and traditions, is the italian way respected or is it seen as being condescending? For me I know my country's way to prepare the coffee that represents our culture, and this makes me feel at home here in the U.S.

Thanks in advance for anyone who comments


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Here in the Midwest, even in South Dakota, we try to keep to a traditional style of reciepes with cappucinnos & other drinks. Though we do offer paper cups, 12, 16, & 20 OZ., we push for customers to use our ceramic mugs for a traditional drink or espressos. I think we do a pretty good job to keep certain standards very high...
We try to gear toward anyone who comes through our door, though we do make sure we mention how we make certain drinks, that have now become "Americanized." We try to educate each customer without being pretentious. Whether it's covering drinks, or bean characteristics.
Hope that's a sigh of relief...
Thanks for your answer, Matthew. I feel to educate without being pretentious is a great way to think. It also is understandable that coffee culture is not singular here. There is many ways that have been Americanized to suite the american life style. Even so I have found very true Italian caffe shops that serves only espresso, cappuccino, and liqueur for your coffee.( such as sambuca, grappa, and bitters)

A quick story about my "americanized' experience. I worked for a very European caffe, where the focus was to serve tradition coffee drinks, and push the limits of trying to make them understand the history of it. A gentleman of the hipsterish type came in to the store and asked me for a "breve". Now for me having italian as my first language, that word refers to "short" as in the newspaper. I told him I was not educated in american style coffee drinks, and that was when he informed me it was a cappuccino made with half and half. I was stunned. That is NEVER done in Italy...
i find there's a lot of confusion about what the "italian way" even is. i have reasonable evidence to believe that an italian cappuccino is a single 30ml espresso with 120ml-150ml of steamed milk, so i serve a "cappuccino tradizionale" that way. i also serve an "american cappuccino" that's a double 60ml espresso with 180ml of steamed milk.

for espresso, we generally do 20g of espresso (our own blend) to a double, 60ml of liquid, 91 C brew temperature, at 9 bars of pressure. would the italian standard differ from that significantly?

vvv Brady vvv fixed too :P
Jared Rutledge said:
a) this is barista exchanges and travel forum. this should be in espresso or retail coffee business.

Yeah oops my mistake that I posted this in the barista exchanges.

In regards to the espresso and cappuccino, that is just about right:

•Necessary portion of ground coffee 7 g ± 0,5
• Exit temperature of water from the unit 88°C ± 2°C
• Temperature of the drink in the cup 67°C ± 3°C
• Entry water pressure 9 bar ± 1
• Percolation time 25 seconds ± 2,5 seconds
• Viscosity at 45°C > 1,5 mPa s
• Total fat > 2 mg/ml
• Caffeine < 100 mg/cup
• Milliliters in the cup (including foam) 25 ml ± 2,5

I only speak for myself and that of my company. Our personal style of espresso making has been a traditionally learned craft - meaning our skills are passed on from one barista to the next. While our style of espresso making comes from Seattle, its roots are in the Italian tradition and we respect that history.

However, our style today has evolved from the first day that I started learning the craft. It's a continual evolution that develops in what I think is a distinctly American way. While the current method of espresso making share similar traits, there are differences between our methods today and that of traditional Italian preparation.

I don't think one is better than the other - just different. And it is these differences that we celebrate and enjoy.
Thank you Jay for your reply.

I do believe that for someone like me it can be, I would not say difficult, but rather challenging for someone like me to change my traditions. I am stubborn and conservative in my way and I do fight for the italian way at the very least to be acknowledged. Even so I am happy to see people take their ideals and make them their own. That is after all the american way and there is no obligation for traditions...
Myself, I enjoy almost everything Italian: The food; the music; their visual arts; the woman (did I say that out loud?) the way visitors are treated in their homes; and of course, the coffee. What's not to like about Italian culture?

That said, I do find it just a touch annoying when people believe that their way, and only their way, is the right way. Living and working in Mississauga Ontario I'm mixing with people from everywhere in the world. Yes, Mississauga is in the top four, I believe, of cultural diversity in North America, and I love it. But, give me a break! I've had people from different parts of Italy standing by the espresso machine fighting about what the true Italian way of doing something is. Heated fights, I might add.

The other day I was out with some friends at a different coffee shop when one person in the group began giving a lecture on how espresso is supposed to be served: Never more than 25 ml.

Sorry, but I weigh about 91Kg (200 lb.) and 25 ml. isn't a drink. 60 ml. is a drink.

For me, I respect espresso's Italian roots, but I honestly think that more developments have come out of the USA in the past 20 years.
see, this is a good example of a productive discussion about different ways of doing espresso. we have numbers!

giovanni, i think like you said we're pretty close on the numbers. obviously i dose a decent amount heavier than you do (20g for a double vs. your 7g for a single) but for the most part it's close. i can't honestly think of any decent café in the states that would be doing something terribly different than those figures.

so to answer your question succinctly, yes, i think we stick to the italian traditions. we experiment based on type of coffee and whatnot, but there are basic parameters where espresso just tastes the best. and most intelligent shop owners and baristi understand that it all started with you guys, and for the most part, we use machines made in Italy. haha.

what specific issues have you seen where you think americans deviate horribly from the italian traditions?
ricky, just FYI, 160 fahrenheit is 71 celsius. giovanni was talking about drinks coming in at 67 degrees plus or minus 3 degrees celsius. 160 is really really close (and certainly not scalded). i generally aim for 65 degrees celsius (149 fahrenheit).

of course, the rest of what you said is perfectly true, but that's why i qualified what i said with "most intelligent shop owners" haha!
right, but i'm not taking any shop seriously that hot holds steamed milk :P
Great discussion, guys! Keep it coming!

Well obviously I disagree with what Frasier said about a shot of espresso not being a drink. Once again this is a cultural separation between what others believe is good for them. It is quality and not quantity for us. (I myself weigh 185 and I am pretty good shape) Hmm as far as developments for espresso here in America that may be true for the american way. Boldly I say, we as Italians are traditional and try not to move to fast...(and conservative not politically, but culturally. Some of us do not even own tv's and we still farm for our food everyday!)

Hmm well as far as the deviations, it was the half and half to be used in a cappuccino! Uffa is all I can say!

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