The best Italian coffees,
from the best Italian cafés.

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Interview: Paolo Giribuola of La Marzocco

Paolo Giribuola is the Sales Director of La Marzocco Italy, a prestigious brand among the ones that have formed the Italian bar culture. His knowledge of this is vast - he probably knows everything there is to know - and we were lucky enough to get an opportunity to chat.

- We’ve noticed that a good espresso at the bar can make an Italian happy, and a bad espresso can ruin and Italian’s day. Why do you think„il caffè del bar“ is so important for Italians?

It’s important because of tradition but it is a status symbol as well. Having a quick coffee at the bar counter in the morning puts you in a good mood and gives you the energy for a busy day.

- We believe that the best Italian coffees in general are the ones served in Italy’s best bars. What is your view about this?

This is true as a general rule, although nowadays one may come across good quality coffee in a street corner bar (by that I mean bars in less „strategic“ areas) or sometimes lower quality coffee in famous bars.

- What do you feel where the biggest changes that the Italian bar / café sector went through in the last 10-20 years?

As far as the bars are concerned, we went very quickly from a „colonial style“ café („café stile coloniale“) which is a bar where coffee is roasted on site, and where coffee represented 80% of the business, to a bar where coffee is a key element but not the main one, as several other offers were introduced such as lunch menus, aperitivi, street food, wine lists.

- Did the taste of the Italian public change in the last 10-20-30 years, in terms of preferring a certain espresso taste profile to another?

Yes, in Italy too, following the international trends, we see a significant increase of the demand for single origin coffee and of the public interest about the whole coffee production chain.

- Speaking of good coffee, where would you say you drank the best espresso of your life?

At the end of the 70’s during a holiday in Venice, I remember entering an old colonial café, excited about the magic aroma that flooded the street nearby. I took the advice of the barista and tried a very particular blend (based on a Haiti coffee) which to this day I remember as one the best coffees I ever had. That experience gave me a great curiosity about the world coffee which then turned into a profession.

- The tourists can be overwhelmed with choice in Italy. Can you recommend a few great Milan bars to the „espresso gourmet“ tourists?

In Milan the traveller will find a rather „discrete“ coffee, and the average quality is very high, very often the coffee blends in bars are excellent. One needs to consider that there are about 200 coffee roasters gravitating around Milan!

- When you enter an unknown bar to have an espresso, how do you „feel“ if it’s a good bar or not?

I have a quick look at the espresso machine and the barista. I try to check whether the machine is clean, specifically whether the steam wand is clean, and where do they keep the milk bottle or pack.

- What coffee making device do you use in your home?

Following the tradition from my grandparents, at home I normally use a „moka“ or a „napoletana“.
(Our note: to learn more about these two traditional Italian coffee brewing methods, watch this video for a demonstration of moka preparation and this one for napoletana).

- What espresso machine would you recommend to the enthusiastic, aspiring „home baristas“?
I would recommend the latest creation of the Marzocco house, born from the professional bar experience that it brings now into the home – the Linea Mini 1.