The tradition of coffee in Naples

Published in Focus
05 May 2017

In the shade of the Vesuvius, coffee is not simply a “drink”, but an actual ritual. Here are the secrets and curiosities that revolve around the fabulous and aromatic world of black gold .

Coffee in Naples is a real collective ritual that dates back to the early 1800's, when walking coffee makers strolled around the city with a pot full of coffee and milk, and with a basket of cups and sugar to offer a quick breakfast to Neapolitans.

Even today coffee is a shared ritual. If you host a guest, it is a moral obligation to offer him good homemade coffee; If you meet a friend on the street, this is a good excuse to go to a bar. And there are those who consider it an intimate moment, as Eduardo de Filippo said in the comedy “These ghosts”: "I, for example, would give up anything except this cup of coffee, sipped quietly, out here on the balcony, after waking up from a quick nap after lunch. And I have to make it myself, with my own hands".

Naples is not the home of coffee, but in the collective imagination certainly the best coffee is Neapolitan! Some say that it is because of the water, others that the secret is enclosed in the particular toasting mixture, darker than the others. There are, then, some little things to keep in mind! The coffee maker should not be washed with soap or detergent, but only rinsed with boiling water. The more you use the coffee machine, the more the flavor soaks in, and if you wash it with soap everything will be lost. Coffee should be sipped calmly, in a small ceramic or glass cup, never in plastic and it must meet the rule of the four Cs, that is to be rich (carico), warm (caldo), comfortable and short (corto). Better bitter, to savor the aroma to its fullest. And finally, before coffee in Naples, you drink a glass of water: your mouth needs to be cleaned to taste it completely..

The “cuccuma”

The cuccuma is the ancient Neapolitan coffee maker, invented in 1819 by the Parisian Morize and then perfected in Naples. In the past, coffee was roasted directly at home and then cooked in the kettle, formed by a boiler in which the water was heated and another part where the coffee was filtered by infusion. Replaced by the moka, it slowly disappeared from houses and bars.

The mystery of the cuccuma

The cuccuma is also the protagonist of a book entitled 'The mystery of the cuccuma’. Written by Giovanni Calvino and edited by Ies Comunicazione, the short tale is set in the historic Gran Caffè La Caffettiera of Piazza dei Martiri, to which it is dedicated. Its plot revolves around the mysterious disappearance of a cuccuma historically belonging to the Campajola family, owner of the cafè ...

Suspended coffee

In Naples an ancient tradition resists, the suspended coffee tradition. In some bars, instead of paying for a single coffee, you leave another paid at the counter for someone who can’t afford it. It's a way of loving your neighbor, a bit like offering coffee to the rest of the world.