A trip back in time
Coffee history fascinates us, especially where it concerns espresso. After all, our initial mission back in 1986 was inspired by the espresso found in Italian cafes: how to recreate this beverage at home. In Novecento, we sought to recreate the coffee of Italy’s 1940’s: a smoky dark cup that takes you back to the atmosphere of the early stand-up coffee bars. Back then, roasting machines, like pizza ovens, were often wood-fired. Roasting was perforce slower, and the coffees used in blends were largely dictated by what was more readily available: namely, West African Robustas, East African Arabicas and, of course, the beloved Brazil. An exotic twist to these early blends was Yemeni coffee, the earliest Arabica coffee in history to be traded commercially. Ingredients and roast styles conspired to create a low-acid, heavy-bodied cup, with dense, dark crema and a lasting, bitter aftertaste. Was this the prevalent Italian taste because that was the way coffees were blended and roasted at the time? Did the technique itself form the taste preference? It’s impossible to say, but from all our extensive travels through Italy, we know this to be true.