Coffee drinkers know that Italian coffee and espresso are always a great bet for getting your daily dose of caffeine. Following the illycaffè exhibition at Scotts Square earlier this month, the mall's second coffee-themed exhibition titled Espresso Italiano presents more to learn about coffee's storied history.
1. It all started in Venice. Italian-style coffee wasn’t developed until the 19th century, but the Italians—namely the Venetians—imported coffee as early as the 1570s.
2. The first patented coffee machine was Milanese. In 1901, Luigi Bezzera registered a coffee machine in Milan that consisted of gas-heated, brass boiler fired by carbon. And yes, those are the same Bezzera machines you still see today. The exhibition at Scotts Square also has some beautiful, pre-Bezzera handmade brass coffee pots on display.
3. Italy made the coffee bar popular. These small espresso bars featured a long counter with an espresso machine and encouraged standing up and drinking.
4. Coffee bars were always hip. Even in the 19th century, coffee houses were the meeting point for artists, authors, philosophers and politicians alike. Caffe’Greco in Rome was popular with composer Richard Wagner, author Orson Welles and even a pope, Gioacchino Pecci, who became Leo XIII.
5. Paying it forward started with coffee. The Neapolitans have a tradition, caffe sospeso, or suspended coffee, of buying two cups of coffee, but only drinking one. The other is meant as a good turn so the less fortunate could also enjoy a cup.
6. Coffee isn’t only for drinking. While it is delicious when brewed, it’s got more uses than one. Indian artists Amita and Mira Chudasama use coffee as a pigment mixed with water for their paintings, and you can view their original painting from 2006 at the exhibition. Coffee grounds also double as a great exfoliator for dead skin.
7. Lattes aren’t Italian. In fact, traditional Italian coffees tend to be in the form of espressos, macchiatos and cappuccinos. Lattes were supposedly invented by an Italian-American in California in the 1950s.
Want to learn more about the history of Italian coffee? The Espresso Italiano exhibition runs Jul 15-Aug 2 at Scotts Square. Curated by Luciano Calosso and Enrica Barbano from Colosseum Cultural Association, with the support of the Italian Cultural Institute of Singapore, the exhibition covers everything about the history of Italian espresso, its artistic significance and modern day hipster reincarnations. Take this chance to admire original coffee pots and tools that date back to the 1700s–1800s.
Plus, enjoy a free cup of illy coffee with a minimum spend of $50 in a single receipt at Scotts Square during this period. Click here for other promotions.
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