Not just breakfast, breaks and post-lunch: the drink most loved by Italians also holds center stage at aperitif and after dinner times thanks to the spread of coffee cocktails, where its aromatic notes blend perfectly with spirits, soft drinks and fruit juices. The exclusive recipes of Francesco Sanapo, award-winning champion barista and taster, for Consorzio Promozione Caffè.

For a long time there were only and exclusively ceramic cups, then the more modern glass ones arrived. And today? Now coffee has conquered even the most elegant glasses, glasses and cocktail mugs thanks to "coffee mixology" , where it becomes an ingredient in innovative drinks with unexpected flavours. A trend which, from a niche passion, has become an increasingly well-known specialty also in Italy, where new cocktails are born every day in which the aroma of coffee combines with the notes of spirits, fruit juices and soft drinks , in alcoholic and Not. The success of these drinks is driving coffee towards new time slots such as aperitifs and after dinner , during which the demand for "coffeetails", i.e. coffee cocktails, is growing strongly, especially among younger people and in a period like summer when temperatures can discourage the consumption of hot drinks.

Coffee continues to amaze us with its ability to renew itself through new ways of consumption, capable of attracting new generations, without however losing a strong connection with the concept of Italianness ,” declares Michele Monzini, President of Consorzio Promozione Caffè . “ As emerges from our research “If it's Italian... you can feel it! – Italians and coffee” [1] , for 91.3% of Italians coffee is extraordinary because it combines the tradition of the oldest methods with the innovation of new ways of preparing and enjoying it, such as coffee-based drinks . Whether it is breakfast or an aperitif, coffee is always the protagonist, capable of igniting conviviality: it is no coincidence that 92.4% think that this drink, in its most varied forms, is a moment of meeting and that the 91.2% consider it a gesture of love or friendship for the people to whom we offer it".

What laid the foundations for the success of coffee mixology is the fame of international cocktails such as the Irish Coffee and the Espresso Martini, which influenced bartenders to also use coffee in drink form. “ It is an ingredient that has an important impact on taste and therefore becomes the protagonist of the drink,” explains Francesco Sanapo , award-winning champion bartender and taster . “ It is therefore essential to use it wisely, first of all knowing the raw material: each coffee, in fact, is different from the other and can characterize the cocktail in a different way ”.

The extraction methods , in particular, can give a different "twist" to the cocktail, enhancing the aromatic notes of the spirits or fruit with which the coffee is paired. Espresso , for example, is perfect in a drink in which you want to bring out the strength and intensity of coffee in balance with spirits of character , such as vodka, whisky, tequila and triple sec, while cold brew and mocha are widely used in "mocktails" , the non-alcoholic variant of cocktails, to create a greater balance of taste with ingredients such as orange juice, tonic water or almond milk. And the fact that coffee is the protagonist of these alcohol-free drinks is not surprising: the cappuccino, which comes from mixing coffee and milk, is the first example of a mocktail in history.

The spread of coffee cocktails is especially favored by young people , who, in addition to being more inclined to experiment and enjoy coffee in innovative ways , live the coffee shop experience differently than other generations. If grandparents and parents, in fact, most of the time enter a bar to order an espresso at the counter which they will drink in a few sips, their children choose drinks that will accompany them over a much longer period of time, during which they can study, work and spend time with friends. Coffee drinks, particularly in their alcohol-free variant, thanks to a higher volume of liquids compared to more traditional proposals, are the perfect drink to accompany them in a complete and all-encompassing experience.

Mixed with an alcoholic or zero-degree cocktail, coffee must always maintain a balanced profile, avoiding covering the other flavors too much or unbalancing them towards unpleasant notes. For this reason, according to Francesco Sanapo, the ideal coffee to use in coffee mixology is medium roasted arabica : “ When you mix two ingredients, two flavors prevail: bitter and acidic. The first, if too strong, is associated with an unpleasant, negative flavour, which is why it is better to avoid a dark roast which would accentuate the bitter notes", adds the expert. “In cocktails we can find various acidic notes, for example those of fruit, which can give the drink a more complex and interesting flavor profile if valorised correctly. Arabica coffee is ideal for this because it is characterized by a touch of acidity which can give greater sweetness to the drink". In short, coffee looks to the future by continuing to surprise with its extraordinary versatility , so much so that it has become the secret ingredient of two innovative summer cocktails proposed by Francesco Sanapo: the Basilisco , where coffee meets the taste of basil and coconut milk , and a revisitation of the famous Negroni .