In 1882 Domenico Vergnano opens a small apothecary in Chieri, a small mediaeval city on the hills of Torino. The offer is wide: cocoa and many different spices, pasta and of course coffee. Little by little he starts to specialize in the purchasing and selling of green coffee, expanding his business also in Torino. The high opportunities brought by this expansion to the city convinced the founder to start roasting the green coffee beans too: Caffè Vergnano was born.
But the history of coffee in Italy begins on a specific date and place: in 1570 in Venice, when the first Juta bags containing green coffee arrived from the East.
At the beginning the drink was sold in pharmacies only, but the high cost of the product made it an attraction especially for the wealthier classes: in a short time the number of “coffee shops” around the city increased, reaching the number of 218 in Venice in 1763.
It is around these years that coffee becomes symbol of conviviality and family, the fundamental values of the Italian spirit. Coffee becomes soon an opportunity for friends and lovers to meet in coffee shops to share the unique taste of this drink.
This is how coffee conquered all regions of Italy, captured by its unique flavour, each one with a specific “preferred” blend either sweeter loved in the northern regions or stronger as people like it in the south. Whether sweet or bitter, coffee is a true “must have” in Italian homes. A tradition that passes from generation to generation, accompanying the most important moments of a family.
In Italy we count more than 400 coffee roasting companies and many cities claiming to be the “coffee capital” from Venice, where the first coffee bag arrived, to Trieste a key port where green coffee still arrives in huge quantities daily. But doubtlessly the winning city is Turin, the first capital of Italy and the capital of espresso. The first espresso was tasted in Turin in 1884, the city was already excelling in the art of coffee roasting, and reaches another record that no other city will ever be able to conquer, because – in Turin – the first example of an espresso coffee machine was born.
The espresso soon became one of the most popular drink in Cafés and the espresso coffee machine had proved to be a brilliant invention. The machine was patented in May 1884 and became a “must have” for all the popular cafeterias of Turin.
Nowadays coffee is a “pillar” of Italian culture, it is a ritual that connects families and friends all over Italy. Not only espresso at the bar but also coffee accurately prepared with the moka pot at home. Either with this popular Italian extraction method or with capsules you will always find a cup of coffee waiting for you at your parents’ house or at a friend’s. it is indeed a pillar of Italian values and a “fil rouge” over time and territory.