Interview with Luigi Morello, president of the Istituto Espresso Italiano

F: How was the Istituto Nazionale Espresso Italiano born?

It was born in 1998, from the intuition of Luigi Odello and an enlightened group of managers and entrepreneurs.

It was created to profile, protect, and promote Italian espresso coffee, the heritage of Italian culture, and a symbol of Made in Italy around the world. In recent years, the custodians of Italian espresso coffee have been created, through a network of qualified players who promote the tradition and quality of espresso around the world.


F: Can you introduce us to the Institute? What exactly does it deal with?

The Italian Espresso Institute (IEI), which includes coffee roasters, coffee machine and grinder manufacturers, and other companies in the supply chain, protects and promotes the culture of quality Italian espresso and cappuccino. Today, after 26 years, it continues to deal with the world of culture, scientific education, and certification through its members chosen from among the entire supply chain, and today has 37 member companies with an aggregate turnover of more than EUR 700 million.

F: How many companies in Italy are certified with your certification?

Our certification is the only one in the sector that has the ambition of addressing the evolved end consumer; in addition to certifying and controlling the production processes of all associates annually, we certify the products, IEI blends, with sensory analysis and IEI Premium also with chemical analysis, and IEI Premium equipment based on very strict technical protocols. There are 37 certified companies and in addition to 37 productions, this includes 64 blends, 80 pieces of equipment (including coffee machines and grinders), and 5 Approved products.


F: What role does the Institute play in the lives of Italians?

From the very beginning, it played an important role because it helped develop and spread the culture of coffee and training, at a time, it was the late 1990s when hardly anyone was talking about it. Thanks to the daily work of all the IEI companies, with at least one of our members' products we now reach 1 \3 of the coffee bars in Italy, but we are not satisfied. We have the ambition to increase the number of certified bars and to reach evolved consumers; in fact, our three-year strategic plan is to invest in fully certified locations and to communicate their diversity and quality to consumers in Italy and abroad.


F: After certifying the espresso, why also the cappuccino? And what's next?

A certification provides tangible proof that an individual, organisation or product meets specific criteria and adheres to recognised standards. It is a way of demonstrating quality, reliability and conformity at an international level.

Our certification is not just of the beverage, IEI certification is much more complex. Our certification, CERTIFIED LOCALE IEI, has the ambition to guarantee to the end consumer that the manager of that establishment is careful about the quality of the processes and that in the area of coffee he guarantees: the coffee supplier with certified quality processes, certified blend, certified coffee machine and grinder, barista who has undergone and passed training courses, and consequently all this guarantees that the sensory profile of the espresso and cappuccino coffee are within the parameters.

Although we are talking about espresso coffee, in the world the most consumed beverage is the cappuccino or, in any case, coffee-based milk drinks, so we could not avoid identifying and standardising the recipe. According to experiments conducted by the Italian Espresso Institute (IEI), a quality cappuccino that respects tradition consists of 25 ml of espresso and 100 ml of milk whipped with steam.

At the basis of a Certified Italian Cappuccino there is always a Certified Italian Espresso, an espresso prepared in compliance with the rules laid down in the Espresso Italiano brand certification (CSQA product conformity certification no. 214 of 24 September 1999, DTP 008 Ed. 1).
Certified Italian Espresso

"A cup containing about 25 millilitres of coffee adorned with a consistent, finely-textured crema, hazelnut-coloured tending to dark brown, brought to life by tawny reflections. The aroma should be intense and rich with notes of flowers, fruit, chocolate and toasted bread. In the mouth, the espresso should be full-bodied and velvety, rightly bitter and never astringent'.

From a sensory point of view, the Certified Italian Cappuccino is white, adorned with a more or less thick brown border in the classic cappuccino, with brown to hazelnut designs in the decorated cappuccino. The cream has a narrow mesh with very fine or absent holes. The Certified Italian Cappuccino has an intense aroma. The subtle hints of flowers and fruit are complemented by stronger ones of milk, roasted (cereals, caramel), chocolate (cocoa, vanilla), and dried fruit. Empyreumatic and negative biochemical odours are absent. The body is important and is expressed with a persuasive, creamy, and highly spherical sensation, supported by a mild bitterness and a balanced, almost imperceptible acidity. Astringency is practically absent.


I suggest 3 different types of IIAC - International Institute of Coffee Tasters courses for those who would like to learn more about the subject:

1. Course M1 - Italian Espresso Tasting: The Italian Espresso Tasting course allows you to become a coffee taster and discover how to evaluate one of the world's most popular beverages. The course is structured in a theoretical part and a practical tasting part.

It lasts eight hours and ends with an exam for those who wish to become tasters and obtain a licence.

2. Course M2 - Italian Espresso Specialist: Italian Espresso Specialist is a historical, anthropological and technological journey into the Italian coffee par excellence: espresso. A beverage so complex that it requires solid sensory and technical preparation, both illuminated by its centuries-old history.

A journey that starts with the history of Italian espresso, with often unknown details that explain a lot about how Italians drink coffee at the café today, and continues with a sensory narration of the main styles that have emerged from the study of hundreds of blends.

A journey that continues with the discussion of technical topics such as water, grinding and extraction in the espresso machine: an indispensable knowledge for every Italian Espresso Specialist who wants to understand its in-cup reflexes. A narrative that concludes with the Italian cappuccino, a symbol of a marriage between coffee and milk that today knows enormous fortune, especially outside Italy.

3. Course M3 - Sensory Psychophysiology: This course aims to introduce sensory analysis and its fields of application, not limited to coffee but to any product or service whose fruition passes through the sense organs. Highly interactive due to the numerous exercises that alternate with theoretical lectures, the course aims to enable participants to develop the necessary knowledge of the potential of their sense organs and the mechanisms that lead to the interpretation of a stimulus and the measurement of a perception

Furthermore, IIAC - International Institute of Coffee Tasters has actively contributed to the definition of the sensory profile of Certified Italian Espresso in collaboration with the Italian Espresso Institute (IEI).

If you are interested in becoming a coffee expert or


F: Where do you drink your favourite espresso?

I do not have a favourite espresso, each cup of espresso has its personality and characteristics that I like to discover and appreciate at different times of the day and I will explain why. In 2019 IIAC - International Institute of Coffee Tasters, under the guidance of Prof. Luigi Odello, conducted an anthropological study on coffee styles in Italy and identified 5 sensory styles of Italian espresso, each with unique characteristics:


1 Alpine Style: This style is associated with the mountainous regions of northern Italy. Alpine people prefer a coffee with a clear acidic freshness, emphasising notes of flowers and fresh fruit. It is a lively and refreshing profile.

2 Po Valley style: The Po Valley people, located just below or above the Alps in terms of latitude, prefer a more roasted coffee. The roasted aromas include cocoa, and sometimes there is a timid acidity. It is a profile that balances the roastiness with a slight astringency.

3 Tyrrhenian Style: This style, typical of central coastal regions, is characterised by a renaissance profile. Notes of dried fruit and pastries dominate, creating a harmonious balance.

4 Central style: People living in the central regions of Italy prefer a coffee with spicy notes, which are often absent in Tyrrhenian coffees. Cocoa is still the protagonist, but with a touch of spice.

5 Southern Style: In southern Italy, the coffee takes on a robust and assertive profile. Spicy notes are central, and the body of the coffee becomes more and more robust.


Having said that, I can say that as soon as I wake up and throughout the morning I prefer the Alpine style, which is more delicate, acidic and floral, while after lunch I prefer a Tyrrhenian style, or a Southern style, the latter with its caffeine charge counteracts the moment of digestion. In the evening I gladly return to the Alpine style, which with less caffeine prepares me for rest.