We all know the Italians love coffee.  Last year they consumed 5.9 kilos of the black stuff per capita and with 800 roasters and 150,000 cafes in Italy (to put that in perspective, there are just 24,000 cafes across the UK) you are never far from your next espresso.

Now, the Consortium for the Safeguarding of Traditional Italian Espresso Coffee is taking things to the next level by pushing for World Heritage recognition for its espresso coffee, arguing that it is an integral part of the country’s cultural heritage.

If the bid to join UNESCO’s list of Intangible Cultural Heritage is successful, Italian espresso will join a long list of customs, carnivals and traditions from around the world including Belgian beer making, Irish hurling and Chinese acupuncture.  Indeed, Italy is no newcomer as in 2017 the art of Neapolitan pizza making was added to this illustrious list of cultural icons.

Not just any old espresso

But just any old espresso will not cut it.

According to the Consortium, traditional Italian espresso “is the only coffee in the world that has a cream and that cream must be uniform and persistent for at least 120 seconds from the time the coffee has been dispensed without stirring.  The cream must also be “consistent, a dark hazel colour, with light streaks.”

To be classed as a traditional espresso, the Consortium stress that the beverage has to t be made using a bar coffee machine, by a trained ‘‘barista,’’ or cafe operator. The coffee must be freshly ground and brewed for 20 to 27 seconds.

The regulations also state that the coffee must be served in a porcelain cup with a narrow bottom; there should be between 13 and 26 grams of coffee in the cup and the temperature, needs to be around 90 and 96 degrees Celsius.

So now we have to wait until next year before we learn whether UNESCO has granted the humble Italian espresso the much sought after Intangible Cultural Heritage status.