Everyone knows that Italians love their coffee, but not many know how much they love caffè d'orzo (barley coffee). Orzo♥Coffee is the first to introduce in the UK the rich and smooth taste of organic Italian ground roasted barley (caffè d’orzo). This is Italy’s favourite alternative to coffee and its best kept secret.
Barley has been grown in Italy since ancient times. As an integral part of the Mediterranean diet it is used to make soups and breads. However, in the sixteen century when drinking coffee became popular with Europe’s aristocracy and middle-classes, poorer farmers thought of trying to roast and grind their trusted
barley instead. The rich, smooth and nutty drink, made from brewing the barley was considered the closest alternative to the exotic, but expensive imported coffee.
In the 1940s, during the rise of Italian nationalism caffè d'orzo received an unexpected boost. In order to encourage self-sufficiency and self-reliance (as well as responding to international sanctions), the war-time government abolished use of imported coffee, promoting instead the locally produced barley coffee.
Barley coffee has been for more than a century integral
part of the traditions and values of rural Italy. Grown in
the fields and roasted at home on the family fire-place or
wooden stove, barley coffee was enjoyed by all the family
– by children as well as their grandparents - roasting the seeds was a little family ritual, to undertake in front of the slow fire. A special pan ‘tostaorzo’ (see photo), with a turning mechanism inside, was used to slowly roasted the seeds over the fire.
With the post-war economic boom, caffè d'orzo was overshadowed by the more glamorous ‘Italian’ coffee. Nonetheless it remained in use, mainly for children, within the family home.
However, in recent years, as Italians rediscovered the origins of their food culture and tradition, caffè d'orzo has become increasingly more popular. It is seen as a healthier, naturally caffeine free, drink, enjoyed in bars and restaurants at any time of the day. As Italians have embraced a hectic modern life, the desire for natural, healthy and more balanced products has brought them back to caffè d'orzo. The warm and homely taste of orzo brings everyone back to family, nature and sustainable values. In a fast and industrialised food and drink market when often the list of ingredients are more complex and unpronounceable than a foreign language, caffè d'orzo has brought back the simplicity and trustworthiness of nature to everyone’s cup.
Caffè d'orzo is nowadays enjoyed daily by families at home but it is also prepared in Italian cafes, bars and restaurant thanks to handy pods that can be used in the professional espresso machines, creating tasty orzo espressos, cappuccino and lattes.
In the history of caffè d'orzo there is a timeless and valuable lesson: the most precious flavours are the one we can find closest to home.
in this blog you will find some curiosities, updates and events ...so treat yourself to a lovely cup of Orzo & enjoy the reading!