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True Espresso Lovers: Visit to a Coffee University



The pulsating southern Italian city of Naples seems to be running espresso. Marcello Uzzi, who offers high-end tours in his city, says the excitement of the city is partly due to the love of coffee.

A regular stopover on his tour is the Caffè Gambrinus, which was already founded before Italy in Naples was a kingdom. "It's like a temple," Uzzi said.

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Enjoy espresso in the Caffè Gambrinus in Naples.

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And coffee is here like a religion.

"Speaking of coffee, you know, it's like pizza – it's part of our tradition," said Uzzi.

Espresso – here simply called "coffee" – takes about 30 seconds to brew and a little less to drink.

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Preparing espresso at Caffè Gambrinus in Naples.

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Moreno Faina, who works for the Italian coffee plant Illy, however, recommends to take his time. He says it is a real disgrace to simply repulse . (And he repulses a lot – about 10 cups a day.)

"Think about what happened before the 50 beans were picked," he said. "How many people were involved in preparing the right cup of espresso, and then you have to appreciate the balance, the right degree of bitterness, the acidity and the sweetness."

There is so much to know that Illy has developed a university for coffee at its headquarters in the northeastern port city of Trieste.

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Students attend the University of Coffee.

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Barista Stefano Giannini is a kind of coffee professor at Illy. He said there are more than 140 rules that can influence the final score in the cup.

Yes, reigns .

What exactly is espresso? "If you look at the Latin expressum it means" under pressure. "That's how we extract the coffee," Giannini said.

Italians invented this highly calibrated method of preparation, but first the beans are roasted and ground just right – an art of their own.

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In Italy students of the University of Coffee are taught the rules for brewing the perfect cup of espresso – a highly calibrated cooking method that is an art in itself.

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Illy imports coffee beans from about two dozen different countries and has about 100,000 bags at hand each time. That's enough to brew more than 650 million cups of coffee.

That seems to be just enough to fuel the city of Naples … bringing us back to Marcello Uzzi.

Doane asked the tour guide: "There is a bit of competition between different Italian cities, who has the best coffee?"

"How can you keep up with our coffee? It's impossible!" he laughed.

In fact, espresso is scalded under pressure – with a fair dose of passion and pride.


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Story by Mikaela Bufano.

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