What is Italian roast coffee? 

 The Best Italian Coffee Brands 

Italian roast coffee is a very dark roast that falls on the far end of the dark roast spectrum. Roasted at about 245 °C (473 °F), these taste profiles are largely influenced by the roasting process. Italy has had such an influence on the world of coffee that many coffee brands from other countries have adopted the terminology to reference darker roasts. Let's take a closer look Italian coffee!

Italian Coffee Culture

A strong association between Italy and coffee has existed for a very long time. Italy has enjoyed a rich coffee culture for hundreds of years. It may come as a surprise then, that coffee is not grown in any significant quantity in Italy. 

There exists a range of latitudes that are ideal for the growth of coffee, commonly referred to as the coffee belt. Italy is situated well north of this range, making the climate sub-par for coffee cultivation.

This has not stopped Italy from leaving a mark on the world-wide coffee industry. Many other countries are known for their single origin coffee beans and distinct flavor profiles, but Italy distinguishes themselves via a different means.

Italian Coffee Brand

Coffee and a view in Venice, Italy.

Italian Coffee Blending

Italian coffee refers not to coffee grown in Italy, but coffee that has been blended and roasted in Italy. Italian coffee blends are comprised of a wide variety of beans from all over the world, including both Arabica and Robusta species. There is a definite art to effectively blending various single origin coffees to make a well-balanced final product. Italy boasts a high level of expertise in this area.

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Italian Espresso Coffee

Italy is best known for their espresso coffee. The vast majority of Italian consumers prefer their coffee in this form. As espresso is their brewing method of choice, it makes sense that Italian coffee brands have espresso in mind when blending and roasting their beans!

Certain characteristics of beans make them ideal for espresso coffee. A darker roast and lower acidity are often desirable. (More on espresso coffee) The best Italian coffee brands have it all figured out and are able to live up to the lofty expectations.

Italian Coffee

Italian Roast Coffee

In Italy,  most coffee is… Italian roast.  

Italian roast coffee is a very dark roast that falls on the far end of the dark roast spectrum. (More on roast levels) Roasted at about 245 °C (473 °F), Italian coffee taste profiles are largely influenced by the roasting process. Italy has had such an influence on the world of coffee that many coffee brands from other countries have adopted the terminology to reference darker roasts. That being said...

Italian coffee brands offer more than just Italian roast to world-wide customers.

You’ll find a good selection of medium roast blends that are optimized for espresso!

Italian Coffee History

The history of coffee in Italy is rich and dates back to the 16th century when coffee was introduced to the country. Italy has a strong coffee culture, and coffee plays a central role in the daily lives of Italians.

Coffee was first brought to Italy by traders from the Ottoman Empire in the 16th century. The port city of Venice was a significant trading hub, and it is believed that coffee arrived in Italy through the merchants' interactions with the Middle East.

The first coffeehouses, known as "botteghe del caffe," were established in Venice in the early 17th century. These coffeehouses quickly became popular gathering places for intellectuals, artists, and merchants, serving as centers of social interaction and discussion.

From Venice, the coffee culture spread to other major Italian cities, including Florence, Rome, and Turin. Coffeehouses proliferated, becoming important social and cultural institutions in Italian society.

The Italian coffee preparation and drinking style evolved during this period. Espresso, the method of brewing coffee by forcing hot water through finely-ground coffee beans, is said to have originated in Italy in the early 20th century. The first espresso machine, designed by Angelo Moriondo, was patented in Turin in 1884.

Espresso quickly became the most popular coffee preparation method in Italy, and Italian espresso culture became known worldwide. The Italian word "espresso" itself, meaning "fast" or "quick," reflects the rapid preparation of this concentrated coffee.

In the 20th century, the coffee industry in Italy expanded, and coffee bars, known as "bars" or "caffe bars," became an essential part of Italian culture. Italians developed a unique coffee vocabulary, ordering various types of coffee drinks based on their preferences, such as "espresso," "cappuccino," "latte macchiato," and more.

The Italian cappuccino, a combination of espresso and frothed milk, became particularly famous. However, it is worth noting that cappuccinos are typically consumed only in the morning in Italy, as Italians believe that milk-based coffee drinks are best enjoyed earlier in the day.

The concept of "coffee as an art" also became prominent in Italy, with baristas perfecting the art of creating beautiful latte art designs on top of espresso-based beverages.

Italian coffee culture is deeply ingrained in the country's social fabric, and coffee bars serve as vital gathering places for people of all ages. Coffee is enjoyed throughout the day, and the act of sipping coffee at a bar is often accompanied by conversation and camaraderie.

Today, Italian coffee culture continues to thrive, and Italian espresso and coffee preparation techniques remain influential worldwide. The pursuit of coffee perfection, the art of creating espresso-based beverages, and the vibrant café culture all contribute to the enduring legacy of coffee in Italy.

Best Italian Coffee Brands

Yes there is an extremely rich coffee culture in Italy… but if you’re not in Italy, this won’t affect you too much. There is a distinction to be made between Italian coffee brands and Italian roasted coffee. The former refers to an Italian coffee company that blends and roasts coffee in Italy. The latter is a term that is loosely used to refer to a particularly darkly roasted coffee. The fact of the matter is that any coffee brand can refer to their product as Italian roast.

If you want the real Italian coffee experience, you’re better off going with one of the best Italian coffee brands! Take a look at our 3 best Italian coffee brands below.

Lavazza Coffee

Lavazza is a very widely recognized Italian coffee brand. Lavazza has been in business for more than 120 years, and frequently tops coffee best seller lists worldwide. With a large variety of options, Lavazza truly has something for everyone! It comes down to personal preference in the end, but here are some great options from this stellar Italian coffee brand.

Our Favorite Lavazza Coffee

Gran Espresso Coffee

Roasted By: Lavazza

Roast: Medium

Taste: Rich, notes of chocolate, spice & earth

Lavazza has a wide variety of high quality products, but Gran Espresso is our favorite! This coffee has an intense, chocolate & spice toned aroma that is to die for. These shots are rich, smooth, & never-bitter. A perfect golden crema is produced time after time, making the perfect shot of espresso. If you haven't tried Lavazza yet, it's time!

Not available as ground coffee

Also from Lavazza...

Lavazza has a wide variety of great products. Here are some other coffees that are very much worth trying. The best way to find your favorite is to try them all!

The Coffee

Available As...

Super Crema

Lavazza Super Crema

Roast: Medium

Taste: Mild, creamy, notes of honey, almond & fruit

Gran Filtro

Lavazza Riserva Filtro

Roast: Dark

Taste: Rich, notes of chocolate & caramel

Gold Selection

Lavazza Gold Selection

Roast: Medium

Taste: Rich, notes milk chocolate & vanilla

Illy Coffee

Although second to Lavazza in sales, Illy may actually be the higher quality Italian coffee brand. There are schools of thought that believe that blends containing 100% Arabica beans are superior to those that include Robusta beans. If you subscribe to this point of view, Illy might be the best Italian coffee brand for you!

Our Favorite Illy Coffee

100 % Arabica Espresso Blend

Roasted By: Illy

Roast: Medium

Taste: Rich, balanced, notes of caramel & chocolate

Most espresso blends include a healthy percentage of Robusta beans. Not this one. This blend of 100% Arabica beans is the main product offered by Illy. This blend was created with espresso in mind, and has been perfected over many years. A rich, balanced taste with notes of chocolate & caramel makes for a great espresso shot. A must try!

Kimbo Coffee

The last Italian coffee brand (but certainly not least) that we recommend is Kimbo. Based out of Naples, Kimbo offers the signature taste that is expected of high quality Italian coffee. Kimbo is known for their strong espresso. If you need that extra boost in the morning, Kimbo could be the answer for you!

Our Favorite Kimbo Coffee

Kimbo Espresso Coffee

Roasted By: Kimbo

Roast: Dark

Taste: Rich, notes of dark chocolate & spice

These beans are darkly roasted to create a rich, strong taste. Notes of dark chocolate & spice are prominent. For those serious about their espresso, Kimbo shots offer a strong kick. Despite the strength, this coffee remains smooth and is never-bitter. Highly recommended!

Not available as single serve

And that's that! What's your favorite Italian coffee? 

Do you have an Italian coffee brand that we should try? Let us know!

Have a coffee question? We may have the answer. Ask away!

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