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Italian Espresso Institute (I.N.E.I.) & big Italian brands like Lavazza, Illy
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Discussions > Coffee > General > Italian Espresso...  
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heidipj
Senior Member


Joined: 12 Oct 2013
Posts: 4
Location: Ireland
Expertise: I love coffee

Posted Sat Oct 12, 2013, 1:07am
Subject: Italian Espresso Institute (I.N.E.I.) & big Italian brands like Lavazza, Illy
 

Hi there,
I am interested why, generally, espresso/cafe in Italy is so uniformly good and this led to my discovery of the Italian Espresso Institute (I.N.E.I.) and how they have been providing a very firm set of guidelines that qualify the "Italian Espresso". My questions are:

1) why are the big coffee brands like Lavazza and Illy not part of the certified coffee blend of the INEI.
2) how much do Italians themselves care about this accreditation?
3) how do "third wave" baristas feel about such a strictly enforced accreditation in Italy. Is it a good thing?? Personally, coming from Ireland where a good espresso is very hard to find outside of Dublin (or other major cities) I think the regulations are genius!! But probably quite restrictive if there is an already established coffee culture where good coffee can be expected.

Anyway - I haven't posted here before - I hope this is the kind of question that is wanted... or can be answered.
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NobbyR
Senior Member
NobbyR
Joined: 10 Jul 2011
Posts: 2,046
Location: Germany
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Poccino Opus One, Ariete
Grinder: Eureka Mignon Istantaneo
Vac Pot: N/A
Drip: Melitta Linea Unica de Luxe
Roaster: N/A
Posted Sat Oct 12, 2013, 2:10am
Subject: Re: I.N.E.I. & big Italian brands like Lavazza, Illy
 

Welcome to CoffeeGeek!

Even though the chances of being served a decent cup of espresso are probably greater in an Italian bar than in some other places outside the country (one of the reasons might be that you're more likely to find an experienced barista there), caffè isn't generally so uniformly good in Italy. I can tell from personal on-site experience. Just as anywhere else in the world you'll find great ones, good ones, mediocre and sometimes bad ones as well.

One of the reasons the INEI was founded was to establish guidelines that obtain certain quality standards for Italian espresso, because the coffee drinks that are served under that label aren't always up to requirements. Just like many CoffeeGeeks they have found that a lot of people have wrong impressions about how espresso tastes and don't like it, simply because they have never had real espresso. And those not so tasty coffee drinks give espresso a bad name. However, the INEI criteria, which are pretty technical, are far from being undisputed. Most hobby baristas on this forum dose significantly higher, for example. Still those criteria can be used as a godd starting point for beginners, because following them you will usually get a decent cup of espresso. Experimenting with (and deviating from) those rules might lead to a god shot, though.

So by getting INEI accreditation and serving certified Italian espresso, you only advertise that your espresso complies with those minimum requirements; it's more like a marketing instrument. But you're no longer allowed to improve your espresso.

I don't think there are many bars in Italy that are actually accredited. And third wave baristas are even less interested in getting certified, because their espresso is unlikely to meet the INEI criteria. You have to strictly follow the guidelines and only use certified equipment, which most coffee simply shops don't and have no reason to do.

By the way, most Italians don't even have an espresso machine at home. They'd probably find it strange. Superautomatics are pretty popular in Italy, too, which seldom make good espresso, but most people only have a moka pot to brew their morning latte. Italians usually drink their caffè literally at the bar, after all barista translates to bartender.

 
***
"This drink of the Satan is so delicious that it would be a shame to leave it to the infidels." (Pope Clement VIII on coffee, when he was urged to ban the beverage)
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heidipj
Senior Member


Joined: 12 Oct 2013
Posts: 4
Location: Ireland
Expertise: I love coffee

Posted Mon Oct 14, 2013, 12:49pm
Subject: Re: I.N.E.I. & big Italian brands like Lavazza, Illy
 

Hi NobbyR,

Thanks so much for taking the time to respond! I have been to Italy a few times and have had, on most occasions, very good espresso. Not on always on par with your "third wave" establishments that you might find in inner city Melbourne of LA (presumably) but still pretty darn good. I think that comparing countries - as a whole - the respect and demand for excellent quality espresso is more prevalent in Italy compared to almost any other country... Or would you still say that is an exaggeration?

I guess I wondered how how much influence the INEI has across Italy... Or is just because Italians love drinking espresso and therefore the demand for good quality espresso is there throughout Italy. Whereas in the backwaters of Ireland or Australia or USA(?) etc. there is probably very little demand for the solitary espresso shot, let along bothering to make a good one that will be topped up with half a gallon of scalding milk anyway.

I guess I found the INEI guidelines pretty solid - a great starting point that any cafe owner in possession of a machine could at start out with and start producing very good espresso. But I guess I am not a complete coffee fanatic (well people do call me a coffee fanatic all the time but I don't think I compare to many people on the forum) - I just want a good quality cup of coffee and it's hard to find out where I am. And yes - I have a superautomatic and it suits me fine for a quick shot in the morning when I don't have the time to head to the next town for a proper one.
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NobbyR
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NobbyR
Joined: 10 Jul 2011
Posts: 2,046
Location: Germany
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Poccino Opus One, Ariete
Grinder: Eureka Mignon Istantaneo
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Drip: Melitta Linea Unica de Luxe
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Posted Tue Oct 15, 2013, 5:47am
Subject: Re: I.N.E.I. & big Italian brands like Lavazza, Illy
 

heidipj Said:

I think that comparing countries - as a whole - the respect and demand for excellent quality espresso is more prevalent in Italy compared to almost any other country... Or would you still say that is an exaggeration?

Posted October 14, 2013 link

I guess it helps that Italy is the home country of espresso, and that barista is a recognized profession requiring three years of formal training. However, the INEI is very conservative in their views, so nowadays the innovative spearhead of espresso culture is rather in the United States, I guess.

By the way, from which part of Ireland do you come from?

 
***
"This drink of the Satan is so delicious that it would be a shame to leave it to the infidels." (Pope Clement VIII on coffee, when he was urged to ban the beverage)
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heidipj
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Joined: 12 Oct 2013
Posts: 4
Location: Ireland
Expertise: I love coffee

Posted Tue Oct 15, 2013, 6:39am
Subject: Re: I.N.E.I. & big Italian brands like Lavazza, Illy
 

I wouldn't deny that the spearhead of espresso "innovation" would not be in Italy. And I guess in recent times US has creeped ahead of Australia in terms of of that :)

I am based in Kilcock in County Kildare. The delightful "Boss Hogg" opened up in the next village https://www.facebook.com/bo55hogg a year or so ago and it made my year! Dublin is ok for coffee as there have been quite a few really good artisan coffee joints opening in the last few years. But otherwise Ireland is pretty bad for coffee...
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NobbyR
Senior Member
NobbyR
Joined: 10 Jul 2011
Posts: 2,046
Location: Germany
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Poccino Opus One, Ariete
Grinder: Eureka Mignon Istantaneo
Vac Pot: N/A
Drip: Melitta Linea Unica de Luxe
Roaster: N/A
Posted Tue Oct 15, 2013, 7:12am
Subject: Re: I.N.E.I. & big Italian brands like Lavazza, Illy
 

heidipj Said:

But otherwise Ireland is pretty bad for coffee...

Posted October 15, 2013 link

I wouldn't think so. A pretty good Irish microroasters is located in Killeenadeema, Loughrea, County Galway, for example: click here. Okay, that's not exactly around the corner from your place. But it just goes to show that quality isn't only available in the big cities. I stumbled upon Red Rooster Coffee on a round trip through western Ireland and was lured by the smell of roasting beans.

 
***
"This drink of the Satan is so delicious that it would be a shame to leave it to the infidels." (Pope Clement VIII on coffee, when he was urged to ban the beverage)
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heidipj
Senior Member


Joined: 12 Oct 2013
Posts: 4
Location: Ireland
Expertise: I love coffee

Posted Tue Oct 15, 2013, 8:13am
Subject: Re: I.N.E.I. & big Italian brands like Lavazza, Illy
 

Yes there are some good places outside of Dublin - I guess my post did imply there wasn't any to be found, of course there are some places - but you need to be armed with a map, a weekend and tank full of petrol. In a few years it will be different I am sure. I just want/need reasonable coffee within reach. For now I think it's annoying that people / cafe's don't care enough to get the very minimum, the absolute basics, for brewing a nice cup of coffee even close. I don't even need a "god shot" every time - I just want something half decent! I guess this brings my comment/opinion the full circle which is....

In Italy you can get a fairly good standard of espresso anywhere. It's standard.
In many other countries unless you hit upon a "third wave" joint or established chain like "Costa" your chances of a fairly good espresso is unlikely.

By the way - it's so nice to have a conversation about coffee. My friends will be so pleased that I don't have to take my coffee rants out on them :)
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NobbyR
Senior Member
NobbyR
Joined: 10 Jul 2011
Posts: 2,046
Location: Germany
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Poccino Opus One, Ariete
Grinder: Eureka Mignon Istantaneo
Vac Pot: N/A
Drip: Melitta Linea Unica de Luxe
Roaster: N/A
Posted Tue Oct 15, 2013, 10:58pm
Subject: Re: I.N.E.I. & big Italian brands like Lavazza, Illy
 

heidipj Said:

Yes there are some good places outside of Dublin - I guess my post did imply there wasn't any to be found, of course there are some places - but you need to be armed with a map, a weekend and tank full of petrol.

Posted October 15, 2013 link

In Germany it's quite the same, because Starbuck's, McDonnald's McCafé and the likes rule the coffee shop scene. Most places don't even have portafilter machines but superautos. And if they do have one as an eye catcher, it's not unlikely that there's no apt barista to use it properly. In fact, most are far from following the INEI guidelines. Compared to drip coffee made from pre-ground beans this might still be considered an improvement, but Joe Public simply has no idea how really good coffee tastes and what they're missing. But people willing to pay like € 3.50 for a latte macchiato, feeling really cool, not knowing that this is a drink Italians serve their children. It's kind of funny. To me a latte is something you have for breafast. After that I like to stick to straight espresso.

But I must agree with you that it's hard to find good coffee in Ireland (or the whole British Iles). That's why I usually drink tea when I'm there. ;-)

 
***
"This drink of the Satan is so delicious that it would be a shame to leave it to the infidels." (Pope Clement VIII on coffee, when he was urged to ban the beverage)
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