Why does espresso taste different in Italy than in the US?
Is it the scenic countryside, the renaissance artwork, the legacy of the Medicis.. um, no.
It's because Italians prefer a totally different taste in their espresso than do Americans. And it shows up in the coffee, according to top roasters and travelers.
You see, Italians have always preferred a smoky almost burnt taste to their espresso. Americans on the other hand love smoothness, mildness, and a balanced espresso drink, preferably where they can add some milk and sugar, not too much, thank you.
Therefore Italian espressos served in Italy use robusta beans for up to 20% of the coffee. Americans use all Arabica beans that are more expensive and milder.
This difference in tastes has given me some interesting interactions with Italian roasters.
Typically at a trade show an Italian roaster will insist that his Italian espresso is fabulous, with the authentic taste of Italy that you can't get anywhere else. I agree with him / her that you can't get the taste like that anywhere in the US.
Sample some of our espressos. You'll see how delicate the flavors are.