If it ''weren't for Italian espresso and the social ritual of espresso coffee, Italy wouldn't exist as we know it''.

WHAT do Chinese acupuncture, Irish hurling and the polyphonic singing of the Aka Pygmies of Central Africa have in common?

They are all examples of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity that UNESCO has recognised since it began awaiting such things in 2003, more than 500 different practices and traditions so far.

Italy now hopes to inscribe yet another custom to that list : Italian espresso.

''We know very well how important coffee is to Italians, to Italians living abroad and to people around the world who have learned to appreciate something that is also a ritual and an occasion for an encounter'' and the dissemination of culture, said Maria Chiara Gadda, a law maker with Italia Viva party, who spoke Tuesday in Rome at a media event announcing the start of the coffee campaign.

Italians do love their coffee. According to the Italian Coffee Committee, a trade group, there are more than 800 coffee roasters in Italy and more than 150,000 cafes that make espresso.

In 2018, Italians consumed 5.9 kilograms, or 13 pounds, of coffee per capita.
But traditional Italian espresso is not just any coffee.

''It's the only coffee in the world that has a cream,'' said Giorgio Caballini di Sassoferrato, the founder and president of the consortium sponsoring then candidacy, referring to the froth that arises on top of a shot of espresso.

Turkish coffee, which made the list produced by UNESCO, the United Nations, Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, in 2013, is boiled three times, he explained.

American coffee is percolated through a percolator, while in Sweden, Denmark, Norway and Finland coffee is highly toasted and consumed at dinner tables, ''like a beverage''.

''Other products don't have cream,'' Mr. Caballini di Sassoferrato said.

That's not thing. Espresso cream, as per the regulations drafted by the consortium,'' must be uniform and persistent for at least 120 seconds from the time coffee has been dispensed without stirring,'' according to a news release.

The cream, according to the regulations, must also be ''consistent'' , a dark hazel color, with light streaks.''

To be traditional, espresso must also be made using a bar coffee machine by a trained barista, or cafe operator. The coffee must be freshly ground, and brewed for 20 to 27 seconds.

There are also regulations regarding the type of cup [porcelain with a narrow bottom], amount of coffee in the cup [between 13 and 26 grams] and its temperature, between 90 and 96 degrees Celsius, or just below boiling.

The World Students Society thanks author Elisabetta Povoledo.


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