Italy Is Pushing For Espresso To Have This Special Status

Some of the most monumental milestones in the world of coffee can be credited to Italy. The longest running café in Europe — and possibly the entire world — is Caffè Florian, which opened in Venice in 1720 (via The Culture Trip). Espresso too, is said to have originated in Italy when Luigi Bezzera found a way to brew coffee that could make it so it was prepared and drunk quickly (via Serious Eats). It was his clever way to reduce the amount of time that factory workers spent on coffee breaks, by producing a small cup of strong coffee that could be chugged in as little as three sips — with its success, Bezzera patented the first-ever single-serve espresso machine in 1901. 

Add to all of this history the fact that Italy is famously known for its precise social rules when it comes to coffee drinking and the latest news coming out of the country makes sense. Italy has now submitted an application to UNESCO in the hopes of adding espresso to the agency's official List of Intangible Cultural Heritage (via Food & Wine) — run by the United Nations, it "shines a spotlight on the vast range of global traditions" around the world, says the UN. Italy's Art of Neapolitan 'Pizzaiuolo' and the Mediterranean diet are already reflected on UNESCO's list and, last year, the agency approved the country's bid to add truffle hunting and extraction to the roster as well (via UNESCO). If approved, espresso will be Italy's 16th addition to the coveted group of goods that are heritage protected.

This isn't Italy's first application to UNESCO for espresso

Last year, two separate governing bodies sent in an application to UNESCO in a bid to get espresso on the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage; those being the Consortium for the Protection of Traditional Italian Espresso Coffee and the Region of Campania, the latter of which wanted espresso to be recognized as a part of Neapolitan culture in particular (via Food & Wine). As a result, both submissions were rejected and UNESCO urged them to work together on one single submission this year.

The two agencies have indeed started worked together, and the application has already been sent to and approved by Italy's Ministry of Agricultural, Food, and Forestry Policies. Undersecretary Gian Marco Centinaio explained to Sky tg24 that, "In Italy, coffee is much more than a simple drink: it is a real proper ritual, is an integral part of our national identity, and is an expression of our sociality that distinguishes us in the world." He is confident that the new application will be approved by the Italian National Commission for UNESCO, which is the next step, after which it will be sent to UNESCO's headquarters in Paris by March 31 for the final stamp of approval. If all goes well, espresso will finally get its due credit by being officially recognized as a part of Italy's cultural heritage.