Coffee & Italy
By the 16th century, coffee had made its way from the Middle East to Europe via ever-expanding trade routes. The port of Venice, with its bustling commerce, became the point of entry for the drink described by German Physician Leonhard Rauwolf as, "A beverage as black as ink, useful against numerous illnesses, particularly those of the stomach. Its consumers take it in the morning, quite frankly, in a porcelain cup that is passed around and from which each one drinks a cupful. It is composed of water and the fruit from a bush called bunnu."
Once in Italy, coffee gained the attention of the Catholic Church and was declared a "Christian beverage" by Pope Clement VIII. After it was cleared by His Holiness, the drink quickly became popular in Europe before spreading to the rest of the world. The continent's first coffeehouse opened in Italy in 1645.
While Italians did not discover coffee, their contributions to advancing the beverage are undeniable. It was the Italians who turned coffee into espresso. And, it is thanks to them that many of the world's coffee-based beverages, including lattes, cappuccinos, and macchiatos came about. Whether at home or in a cafe, the Italian art of coffee and espresso preparation is celebrated the world over.