Italy, well known for many incredible things. Delicious cuisines that make you mouth water with anticipation. Ancient cities full of priceless monuments and artefacts. Ferrari’s, Lamborghini’s and even Fiats, yes Fiats. For me, when I think of Italy, I see small Italian cafe’s with tables full of people enjoying four courses of food, finishing with Grappa and the most wonderful Espresso. Yes, Italy, the home of amazing culture and cuisine, but the question for me is, what is the best Italian coffee?
To answer this question, I will be drawing from my years of travel to this fantastic country and I will be showing you what I believe to be the best Italian blends of roasted coffee beans. This is far from an exhaustive list, but I have whittled it down to my top 5 Italian coffee blends.
A Brief History of Italian Coffee
It is a bit of a strange thing to associate Italy with coffee because no coffee beans are actually grown there. However, you have to go all the way back to the 16th century to see where Italy’s love affair with coffee began. More specifically, Italy’s love affair with espresso coffee.
Venice was one of the first ports to import coffee beans and this is where the history of Italian coffee began. It wasn’t until 1901 though that Luigi Bezzera came up with the idea of forcing pressurized water through coffee grounds to extract what we now call espresso coffee.
From this point on, ever more sophisticated espresso makers and amazing cafes became popular all over Italy and a growth in trade of Italian coffee became an important worldwide export.
I think it is fair to say that over that time, Italians have developed a great passion for coffee and in particular espresso coffee.
The Best Italian Coffee Brands
So here we are now, with our ever so more sophisticated coffee palates and unwavering need for ever better coffee. I now present to you my list of the best Italian coffee brands and then I will show you in no particular order my top 5 coffee blends.
- Arabicaffe – A great coffee from Sicily since 1953. Check out there Supermiscela blend.
- Barbaro Caffè – Founded in 1956 in Naples. Fantastic classic Italian coffee, rich, dark roast with oily beans.
- Barbera coffee – The oldest coffee brand in southern Italy. Roasting coffee since 1870, check out their Barbera Mago blend – amazing!
- Brao coffee – A relative newcomer to Italian coffee, roasting for nearly 30 years. Well known in the northeast of Italy for its great-tasting coffee blends, worthy of the title, “Espresso Italiano qualità”.
- Caffe Arabes – A great all-rounder that performs well in automatic coffee machines. Also presents good value for money.
- Caffe Borbone – If you have a Nespresso machine, these guys create some great alternative pods with a great strong Robusta coffee.
- Caffe New York – Don’t be fooled by the name, Caffe New York is not an American brand. It is a famous cafe in Italy that attracts people from far and away for its amazing coffee. They produce their own roasts for you to enjoy.
- Cellini coffee – Cellini’s motto is “perfection down to the last detail”. Renowned for being an espresso connoisseurs coffee.
- Compagnia dell Arabica – A roaster from the central region of Italy. They are well known for roasting one variety of bean from a single harvest in each batch that they roast. They never mix beans ensuring a great, consistent, and luxury coffee experience.
- Costadoro – Founded in 1890 from Turin, Costadoro is an excellent family-run roasting house that has grown into a big business.
- Danesi – Founded in 1905 from Rome, Danesi is a roasting house famed for its supply of espresso to professionals and top caterers. Their Doppio Danesi blend is particularly good.
- Filicori Zecchini – What can you say about this incredible roasting house? Famed for their traditionally amazing espresso they were awarded the prestige of being able to field the label, “Espresso Italiano” from the “Italian Espresso National Institute”. This is only awarded to the best of the best in Italy.
- GEPA coffee – Pioneers of the fair trade movement long before it became commonplace for coffee makers.
- HARDY coffee – The Maja brothers founded this roasting house in 1954 in Milan. Known for their outstanding coffee blends and 100% Robusta bean roasts. I love the Zanzibar espresso roast.
- IZZO coffee – Based at the foot of Mount Vesuvius, this roastery was founded in 1979 and produce some of the most aromatic and strong espressos you can find.
- Jolly coffee – Founded in Florence, this roastery is a supremely good roasting house. Fronted by the premium roaster, Dante Belardinell, they produce some of the finest espresso coffees in Italy.
- La Messicana – Starting life in 1957 in the city of Piacenza as a small roasting house they quickly grew to one of the biggest roasting houses in the region. I particularly like their La Messicana Bio Espresso blend.
- La Tazza d’oro – Roasting coffee since 1938 in Cagliari, this roasting house started life in the traditional way but have now moved toward the modern market with capsule-based espresso blends.
- Lollo Caffe – Making coffee blends since 1990, they produce espresso of unmistakable aroma and taste. Now moving toward the pod market more.
- Lucaffe – Started by a young roaster called Luca Venturelli based near Lake Garda in 1990, Lucaffe produces great coffee renowned for great crema and chocolate tones in the taste.
- Maestoso coffee – They are well known for their high caffeine espresso made from 100% Robusta beans.
- Mamis Caffe – Mamis coffee has a unique flavor and is well known for its modern approach to roasting coffee.
- Maria Sole coffee – The great thing about Maria Sole coffee is that they slow roast their beans in a drum over a wood fire. This is quite an old fashioned technique but produces wonderfully unique, smokey tasting coffee.
- Martella coffee – One of the top-rated roasters from Rome. They are a relatively small outfit that caters to many of the top restaurants and cafes. A great tasting espresso coffee.
- Mauro coffee – Starting in 1949, Demetrio Mauro created this fantastic roasting house in Sicily. The secret of their success is the slow roasting process they go through.
- Mokaflor – This family-owned coffee roaster is based in Florence and began life in the 1930s. They take pride in their traditional approach to coffee. Typically, their coffee has low acidity with a slight sweetness and big bold flavors.
- mokaMO – They have been making coffee blends since the 1980s from Northern Italy. They create a nice broad range of espresso coffees from mild chocolatey ones through to big bold strong espressos.
- Mokarabia – Well known for their high standards at all stages of coffee bean roasting. They produce some delightful espresso beans.
- Mokarico coffee – Proud to boast the privileged tag of “Italian Espresso” from the Instituto Nazionale Espresso Italiano. Mokarico produces some of the best coffee money can buy. Due to the quality of the Brazilian coffee beans they choose and the intensity of flavor, the coffee is an experience not be missed.
- Musetti Caffe – Started in 1934 by Luigi Musetti in Piacenza, this quality roaster has the enviable quality seal of the highest level called a CSC. I love their Musetti Espresso Evoluzione, mild but bursting with wonderful flavor.
- Nannini Coffee – From northern Italy, this unique coffee is both wild and sophisticated at the same time. Try their Nannini Coffee Classica for a full-flavored and aromatic coffee experience.
- O’Ccaffè Espresso – This roastery began life in the 1980s started by the Vivenzio brothers in Rome. They produce some great coffees and none more so than the O’Ccaffè Espresso 100% Arabica.
- Oro Caffe – Another coffee roastery that started in the 1980s. They create some wonderfully well-balanced coffees and I love the Oro Caffe Doi Chaang Espresso.
- Passalacqua – This brand of coffee is well known for its slow roasting techniques which produces a lovely low level of acidity in its coffee. If you get the chance, check out the Passalacqua Cremador Espresso, a coffee connoisseurs delight.
- Pellini – Pellini have been roasting great coffee beans since 1922. They really are masters of their trade and you should certainly check out their Pellini Coffee Top 100% Arabica beans.
- Quarta Caffè – Known in Italy as one of the best coffee roasters around. They are fairly small but use a sustainable approach to their coffee-making business. They also make some really great coffee, none more so than the Quarta Caffè Espresso Argento beans.
- Salimbene Coffee – They have been roasting coffee beans since 1933 and are based in Naples. They have an almost cult-like status among locals down there.
- Sant Eustachio coffee – There is a small bar in Rome that gis called Sant Eustachio and has been making coffee since the 1930s. You should try some of the coffee they make. I love the Sant Eustachio Espresso whole beans.
- Toraldo coffee – Toraldo coffee is known for its strong, dark character coffees and has impressed many espresso lovers over the years. You should certainly check out their Toraldo Linea No. 40 – Bluette 1000g Beans.
- Tre Forze! coffee – Tre Forze roast their coffee beans over olive wood which really does give their coffee beans a very unique flavor. They tend to have a very low acidity but wonderful flavor and aroma and you should try their espresso beans when you get the chance.
- Trucillo – From southern Italy and roasting coffee beans for over 70 years, Trucillo are true coffee roasting masters. Their Classico blend is a must-try.
- Trismoka coffee – Trismoka has been making coffee since the 1980s and have acquired some great skill and knowledge over the years to create some wonderful coffee experiences. Their espresso gourmet blend is particularly good.
- Udinese Caffe – Udinese has been creating some of the strongest espresso coffee since the 1960s. With its distinctive flavor of toasted hazelnuts, they really do create a unique but wonderful espresso.
If you seek out any of these amazing Italian coffee brands then you will not go far wrong but I do have my personal favorites out of them to show you.
The Top 5 Best Italian Coffee Blends
The following 5 best coffee blends are my own personal taste. We are all different and all have unique tastes but these are great places to start your quest for great Italian coffee.
Caffe’ Vergnano 1882 Espresso Classico ‘600
If you are one of those people who prefer their espresso to taste strong then Caffe Vergnano 1882 espresso classico 600 is a good choice for you.
This blend of coffee beans is an African robusta type which gives it a very rich aroma. As soon as you open the bag, your nose is instantly filled with the insanely rich coffee aroma.
I particularly like this coffee for its rich, full bodied flavor and its slight chocolatey notes.
Lavazza Gran Reserva Filtro
Lavazza is a very well known brand in the world espresso coffee and for me they deserve a place in the top 5 espresso coffee beans.
The best of the Lavazza bunch is the seminal Gran Reserva Filtro. I love the flavor of this coffee and it is something that I can drink a lot of.
With its 60% blend of Robusta and Brazilian Arabica coffee beans it certainly packs in a wonderful aroma, flavor, and a rich velvety crema. It is a dark roasted coffee blend with a slightly sweet tone that cuts through the richness.
Segafredo Extra Strong Coffee Beans
The thing with the Segafredo coffee brand is that it is as Italian as Ferrari. When I taste this espresso, I am whisked off in an instant to the Formula 1 circuit in Monza. I can hear the roar of the engines and smell the rich essence of racing fuel! Not in the coffee I hasten to add!
The coffee has the wonderful aroma of rich almost cocoa-like coffee with hints of almond and ever so slightly acidic in a pleasant way.
Kimbo Espresso Bar – Extra Cream
Started by the Rubino family in southern Italy over 50 years ago, Kimbo are as famous as illy or Lavazza in Italy. Producing some of the finest espresso blends on the market.
The Kimbo brand is world renowned for great espresso. What I particularly love with the Kimbo espresso extra cream is its wonderful aroma both when brewing and when you open the packet.
This is quickly becoming my go to coffee bean. It has a smooth taste, not too bitter and also not too acidic either and it is a great choice for my Jura E8 coffee machine.
What gives these beans its name is the amazing crema that each coffee you make will have. It is persistent as well and doesn’t fade away like some espressos.
Illy Classico Espresso
No discerning list about what is the best Italian coffee can be without an illy coffee. While there are a few blends on offer, I chose the classico roast because it is just a great all rounder that will tick all the boxes you expect from a great Italian roasted coffee bean.
This is a medium roast so not as dark as some Italian coffee beans and for some people they may find the taste a little too mild. I love drinking illy espresso toward the end of the evening when you need something a little less harsh on the palate and you need a coffee for a quick perk up. They also work great in espresso martinis!
You can definitely describe this coffee as smooth tasting with some chocolatey notes also. It is a good all rounder that is a real crowd pleaser.
Why Is Italian Coffee Regarded As The Best?
Many coffee lovers from all corners of the world are pretty universal in their praise for Italian coffee, but what makes it so special? For me, it is the fact that Italians have taken great pride in their pursuit of awesome coffee. They have also been doing it for so long now, with the first espresso machine dating back to the nineteenth century. They really have perfected their art.
Also, there are just so many roasting houses from all over Italy and each offers its own unique approach to roasting coffee beans. The results they produce are just stunning and Italians do not settle for anything less when it comes to espresso.
All coffee lovers should at some stage explore different parts of Italy and savour the many espresso delights that this country has to offer.