Coffee-loving Italians swap cafe for kitchen
By Antonella Ciancio
MILAN (Reuters) - Italians aren't the biggest coffee drinkers in Europe - that title goes to the Finns - but their nation's link with cafe culture is etched on every menu board, giving the world the espresso, the mocha and the latte.
Now that link is feeling the strain of recession.
As Europe's debt crisis drags on, more and more cash-strapped Italians are giving the coffee bar a miss and taking their morning caffeine hit in the kitchen.
"Italians are drinking more coffee at home than at the bar," Raffaele Brogna, the founder of consumer blog community ioleggoletichetta.it, told Reuters.
The trend hasn't gone unnoticed at the Bar Principe in central Milan, and it is hitting the owner, Fausto D'Andrea, in the pocket.
Though coffee prices have risen sharply - reaching a 34-year high on world coffee markets last summer - D'Andrea has had to freeze prices to keep his clientele.
"There has been a little slowdown in consumption, but I haven't increased prices," he said, as he served coffees and sandwiches to customers brandishing corporate lunch vouchers.
D'Andrea said he served espressos for 0.80 euros a cup, against average prices of 0.90 euros charged by rivals in Italy's financial capital. Continued...