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FOOD & DRINK

Italian cafe owner fined €1,000 for ‘overpriced’ €2 espresso

Baristas have spoken out against ‘outdated’ rules after one café owner in Florence got a €1,000 fine over his coffee pricing.

A café in Florence has been issued with a hefty fine after a customer complained about the price of their coffee.
A café in Florence has been issued with a hefty fine after a customer complained about the price of their coffee. Photo by Alberto PIZZOLI / AFP.

Award-winning barista and trainer Francesco Sanapo, owner of the Ditta Artiginale cafe in Florence, was reportedly hit with the steep fine after a patron reported him to the local police.

The customer filed a complaint because they were upset at unexpectedly having to fork out €2 for a decaffeinated espresso, reported local news site Firenze Today.

Single-shot espressos typically cost €1 or less in Italy. Ditta Artigianale said its coffee comes from a small plantation in Mexico and that decaffeinated coffee requires complex extraction techniques that are expensive, hence the two-euro charge.

The fine however wasn’t due to the espresso’s high price, but because of a rule that requires cafés in Italy to display their prices behind the counter or in a menu.

Because Ditta Artiginale only publishes some of its prices in physical form, listing others in only an online menu accessed via a QR code, police reportedly said the owner failed to comply with Italian law.

Sanapo asked his followers for help in fighting the fine, calling the law “outdated” in a video uploaded to Facebook on Saturday, 

“They fined me because they paid two euros for my espresso. This can’t go through, it can’t happen. Help me!!!” the message accompanying the video reads.

“I’m not one to use social media to complain, but this time they have touched a nerve with something that is too important to me and to the entire hospitality industry and particularly the coffee/café world.”

In a subsequent video published on Monday, Sanapo said he didn’t take issue so much with the fine in itself, which he said he would pay, but with Italy’s fixation on having access to cheap coffee at the expense of good quality.

READ ALSO: Where, when and how to drink coffee like an Italian

“Think about it: with one euro you cannot pay a sustainable wage to those who produce coffee, you can’t pay for the professionalism of those who are trained to a high level in hospitality. With one euro we generate poverty throughout the supply chain, we create illegal jobs or workers who are underpaid even when all goes well. A one euro cup of coffee means using poor quality products,” he told the Repubblica news daily.

Sanapo’s peers in the Italian coffee industry have expressed solidarity with his situation.

“We stand in solidarity with our colleagues at Ditta Artigianale. This is 2022 but in Italy you still can’t talk about quality when it comes to coffee, in this sector quality is not appreciated: this is very serious,” Serena Nobili from Dini Caffe reportedly said.

“To disregard the quality of a product where there is a lot of work behind it is something that I am deeply saddened by. Quality is paid for and it is to everyone’s benefit,” echoed Alessandro Vittorio Sorani, president of the small business association Confartigianato Imprese, according to Firenze Today.

Member comments

  1. So, why doesn’t he charge what he thinks is a reasonable price – and post it? Customers can decide if they want to pay a higher price for his “expensive” coffee

  2. Clickbait headline. Obviously the fine was not for the price, but for not being transparent about it. Anyone can charge any price for coffee if the price is clear to the consumer.

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FOOD & DRINK

From spritz to shakerato: Six things to drink in Italy this summer

Summer in Italy means lots of things - trips to the beach, empty cities, strikes, and metro works - but it also ushers in the spritz and negroni season. Here are some of the best drinks to cool down with in Italy this summer.

From spritz to shakerato: Six things to drink in Italy this summer

Spritz

Venice wins all the prizes for being the home of the spritz: the jewel in Italy’s summertime daisy crown and one of the country’s most popular exports.

To first-time customers, the sweet-and-bitter combo can taste unpleasantly like a poisoned alcopop. Stick with it, however, and you’ll soon learn to appreciate this sunset-coloured aperitif, which has come to feel synonymous with summer in Italy.

The most common version is the bright orange Aperol Spritz, but if this starts to feel too sweet once your tastebuds adjust then you can graduate to the dark red Campari Spritz, which has a deeper and more complex flavour profile.

What are the best summer drinks to order in Italy?

Photo by Federica Ariemma/Unsplash.

Negroni

If you’re too cool for the unabashedly flamboyant spritz but want something not too far off flavour-wise, consider the Negroni.

It’s equal parts gin, vermouth and Campari – though if you want a more approachable version, you can order a ‘Negroni sbagliato’ – literally a ‘wrong’ Negroni – which replaces the gin with sweet sparkling Prosecco white wine.

Served with a twist of orange peel and in a low glass, the Negroni closely resembles an Old Fashioned, and is equally as stylish. A traditional Negroni may be stirred, not shaken, but it’s still the kind of cocktail that Bond would surely be happy to be seen sipping.

Crodino

Don’t fancy any alcohol but still crave that bitter, amaro-based aftertaste?

A crodino might be just what you’re after. With its bright orange hue, it both looks and tastes very similar to an Aperol Spritz – so much so that you might initially ask yourself whether you’ve in fact been served the real thing.

Similar in flavour are soft drinks produced by the San Pellegrino brand; bars that don’t have any crodino on hand will often offer you ‘un San Pellegrino’ as a substitute. These drinks are usually available in multiple flavours like blood orange, grapefruit, or prickly pears.

A barman prepares a Campari Spritz cocktail in the historic Campari bar at the entrance of Milan’s Galleria Vittorio Emanuel II shopping mall. Photo by MIGUEL MEDINA / AFP

Chinotto

Much like the crodino, the chinotto is another distinctive bitter Italian aperitivo drink.

With its medium-dark brown colouring, however, the chinotto bears more of a resemblance to Coca Cola than to the spritz, leading to its occasionally being designated as the ‘Italian Coca Cola’.

In reality far less caramelly and much more tart than coke, the chinotto has its detractors, and the fact that we’re having to describe its flavour here means it clearly hasn’t set the world alight since it was first invented in the 1930s (it was subsequently popularised by San Pellegrino, which became its main Italian producer).

If you’re looking for another grown-up tasting alternative to an alcoholic aperitivo, however, the chinotto might just be the place to look.

Bellini

What’s not to love about the bellini?

Its delicate orange and rose-pink tones are reminiscent of a sunset in the same way as a spritz, but with none of the spritz’s complex and contradictory flavours.

A combination of pureed peach and sugary Prosecco wine, the bellini’s thick, creamy texture can almost make it feel smoothie or even dessert-like. It’s a sweet and simple delight, with just a slight kick in the tail to remind you it’s not a soft drink.

Shakerato

Not a fan of drinks of the fruity/citrusy/marinated herby variety?

If caffeine’s more your thing, Italy has an answer for you in the caffe shakerato: an iced coffee drink made with espresso, ice cubes, and sugar or sugar syrup.

That might not sound inspired at first, but hear us out: the three ingredients are vigorously mixed together in a cocktail shaker before the liquid is poured (ice cube-free) into a martini glass, leaving a dark elixir with a delicate caramel coloured foam on top.

You couldn’t look much more elegant drinking an iced coffee than sipping one of these.

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