Barley coffee? A Florentine answer to decaf

Summer in Japan is synonymous with a sort of cold-brewed barley tea called ‘mugicha’. In Florence, the complementary brother of espresso is caffè d’orzo- espresso made from barley. It’s a completely caffeine free drink, and has its history in post-WW2 Italy when resources were scarce (incidentally this is the origin of Nutella as well). Coffee beans, being expensive, were substituted by the much more widespread barley grain. The drink tastes similar to espresso, with a strong wheat or grain taste. With lighter taste and thinner consistency, it may feel to espresso lovers as just a watery and weak espresso. It truly is a unique drink, though, which is enjoyed throughout Italy as well as Spain and Latin America. You can try it at the ITIT Cafe on Via Cavour.

The stay in Florence was too short. Here’s a typical Italian breakfast, espresso e cornetto. (Firenze Centrale station)

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