Italians celebrate their coffee and want the world to do it too

What do Chinese acupuncture, Irish releases and polyphonic singing of the pygmies aka of Central Africa have in common? All are examples of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity that UNESCO has recognized since it began to anoint such things in 2003, accumulating more than 500 different practices and traditions so far. Italy now hopes to register another custom on that list: Italian espresso.

According to the Italian Coffee Committee, there are more than 800 coffee roasters in Italy and more than 1,50,000 coffees that make espresso coffee.

But traditional Italian espresso is not just any coffee. It is the only coffee in the world that has a cream, said Giorgio Caballini di Sassoferrato, founder and president of the consortium that sponsors the candidacy.

Turkish coffee, which is on the list produced by Unesco, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization in 2013, is boiled three times, he said. American coffee is filtered through a filter, while in Sweden, Denmark, Norway and Finland, coffee is roasted slightly and consumed on the table, as a drink.

That's nothing. According to a press release, the espresso coffee cream, according to the regulations drafted by the consortium, must be uniform and persistent for at least 120 seconds from the moment the coffee is dispensed without stirring. The cream, according to regulations, must also be consistent, dark hazelnut, with light stripes.

I can assure you that if it were not for Italian espresso and the social ritual of espresso coffee, Italy would not exist as we know it, said Massimo Cerulo, a sociologist. We cannot separate espresso from drinking from social ritual, because it is a routine, a socially shared practice.

However, Luca Fabbri, a consortium consultant, said the regulations developed by the consortium had already improved the national coffee culture. Even if we don't get Unesco recognition, we have already won the jackpot since the Italian coffee sector is united, he said. NYT NEWS SERVICE