Like inked art on a barista’s forearm, high-end cafes are showing up everywhere. On both coasts and in the middle, over the past two decades Americans have embraced better brew, turning what was once a tiny niche into a mighty market. Nearly half the coffee consumed in the United States today comes from specialty beans ranked well above the commodity grade that once was standard. Don’t believe me? Just take a tour of cafes near your office. Or walk down the aisle of your supermarket and check out what’s for sale. In Northern Europe, Japan, Australia, the same story: Specialty coffee rules.
But in Italy? In the land that introduced generations to the transcendent possibilities of a perfectly executed espresso or cappuccino, specialty coffee is not a thing. Who needs change when you already have perfection?