It is a little vice that many people, even the most health-conscious, cannot give up: today we are talking about coffee corretto, or coffee laced, a coffee-based drink “corrected” with a minimal amount of alcohol.
That of spiking espresso with a liqueur or distillate is a very deep-rooted habit in Italy, which is not only linked to a single region, but finds admirers from the North to the South. What changes in the different territories is the choice of liqueur: in the North (particularly in Veneto, Friuli Venezia Giulia, Lombardy and Val D’Aosta), grappa is generally preferred; in the Southern regions, on the other hand, the traditional liqueurs to mix with coffee are sambuca and aniseed.
However, wandering around a bit, there are many blends to try, and coffee lovers, in all its variations, cannot help but indulge in the various mixes of alcohol and coffee. For example, coffee laced with Baileys is one of the most popular in the world, as is coffee with rum or brandy. The French, for example, are very fond of “café-calva,” a coffee spiked with an apple cider drink, Calvados. In Spain, laced coffee is called “carajillo,” which is served with rum or orujo, a spirit distilled from Galician grapes.
The caution to have is to aim for sweet-tasting spirits and liqueurs, avoiding bitter or acidic drinks, such as gin, vodka, or Cointreau.
It tends to be that those who order laced coffee do not do so to intoxicate themselves or because it has special benefits, it is a true statement of taste; in fact, mixing a fresh and strongly flavoured drink with coffee totally changes its organoleptic characteristics.
Let’s find out what the origins of proper coffee are and, most importantly, in what ways to prepare it.
Caffè corretto: origins and consumption
Caffè corretto has been part of our country’s history for more than a hundred years; the idea of lacing the drink with a distillate has its origins in the North, where this kind of coffee was sipped to warm up and better withstand the cold season and harsh climate. In particular, the drink accompanied factory workers where working conditions were anything but favourable.
The traditional mix was with grappa, a distillate native to Friuli Venezia Giulia and much consumed in places where temperatures were particularly low. True connoisseurs of coffee and grappa, advise being careful when choosing products and not to go for one brand without evaluating its characteristics, i.e., one grappa is not worth the other. The most suitable distillates for laced coffee are those with intense aroma, which are obtained only from the pressing of grapes harvested from different grape varieties.
Over time, despite different climatic conditions, the custom of consuming caffè corretto with grappa has also spread in the rest of the country, which, to this day, represents this coffee par excellence. However, different variations have developed locally, depending on traditions, local products and climate.
In the South, the favourite liqueur is sambuca, although in the Salento area-known especially for the delicious Salento coffee-a popular alternative is aniseed. In this area, even, the bartender makes the entire bottle available to the customer so that he or she laces the cup with the amount of liquor he or she prefers. In the Marche region, Varnelli’s special dry anise is something of an institution along with espresso, and there is no establishment, café or bar, that does not have it available in quantity and does not offer it among the ways of ordering coffee at the bar.
Other alcoholic alternatives include several liqueurs, including brandy – aromatic and strong – and Baileys, with a sweetish aroma.
How to prepare a caffè corretto
Let’s start with a basic rule: coffee with alcohol is made by adding a few drops of distilled spirits or liqueur into espresso or coffee prepared with a traditional Moka; the ideal amount of alcohol is about 5 millilitres per cup. This proportion serves to give balance to both aromas, without either one overpowering the other.
But now to the preparation. Preparing coffee with alcohol is really simple, if the basics are optimal, that is, you need to know how to pre-brew a very good quality coffee.
Depending on whether you need to use a traditional coffee maker or an espresso machine, the process changes. If you use the Moka, just make regular coffee by filling the base with water and adding the coffee inside the filter. With the lever coffee machine, on the other hand, you have to reach the optimal water temperature, fill the filter, hook the arm, and activate the machine so that the coffee comes out.
The right amount of coffee in the cup should be around 30 millilitres, to leave room for the beverage of your choice to correct.
According to your taste and the type of liquor, you can decide whether to sweeten the cup. The liqueur, or distillate, should be added when the espresso is very hot, so that the heat brings out all the aromas obtained from the drink mixture.
But how many ways can coffee be spiked? We have prepared an extensive list so that you can indulge in the preparation of corrected coffee.
Coffee laced with brandy
Brandy is a distillate with an elegant, tart aroma that perfectly complements the intense, robust flavour of coffee. Usually, it is simply added to freshly brewed coffee, but here we offer a delicious variation: coffee laced with flavoured brandy.
In this case, you need to heat the distillate in a briquette, along with spices. Those that go best with brandy and coffee are cinnamon and cloves, along with which you can add orange zest (preferably Organic).
The result is a very pleasant mix of aromas that relaxes, improves digestion and leaves an excellent aftertaste on the palate.
Coffee laced with Sambuca
Neapolitans and Sicilians are fond of Sambuca-corrected coffee, which is served in all cafés in this way, unless different alternatives are requested.
This choice is related to the freshness of the aniseed, which makes the coffee sweeter and more pleasant in high temperatures.
Alternatively, you can also have a shot of coffee with a fly, that is, Sambuca served with a few whole coffee beans.
Coffee laced with Maraschino
Made by macerating black cherry pits, maraschino is a liqueur that originates from the Balkans, particularly Dalmatia. It has a rather sweet taste, and the alcohol content is high, reaching 30 percent by volume. Its notoriety is linked to actor Tomas Milian, who used to order coffee laced with Maraschino as Marshal Nico Giraldi, his best-known character.
Some recommend waiting for the coffee to cool before adding the liqueur so that, with the heat, the alcohol does not evaporate completely.
Moretta di Fano
Moretta di Fano is a real treat for lovers of caffè corretto, intoxicating in taste and beautiful to look at. It is a drink of Marche origin, consumed by fishermen during cold periods so that they could feel the icy winter weather less.
To prepare it, it is necessary to obtain Varnelli or Mistrà, rum and brandy, which should be mixed with coffee in the same quantity. The secret is to heat the liqueurs in a saucepan before adding them to the coffee, along with sugar and citrus zest (either lemon or orange is fine); the mix is ready when the sugar is completely dissolved.
To enhance the drink aesthetically, it should be served in a glass, pouring the ingredients without stirring. This forms three separate layers, in which you can perfectly distinguish the liqueurs, espresso, and cream in the top layer.
Benefits and risks of drinking caffè corretto
Coffee laced is a pleasant mix, especially in winter because, as tradition teaches us, it warms the body and makes it easier to resume activities on particularly cold days. On a full stomach and after meals, it speeds up the metabolism, aiding digestion.
However, according to scientists, this mix of coffee and alcohol should not be abused at all, as it may cause unpleasant consequences on the body.
Caffeine is an energizing substance that can have positive effects if taken in moderation: it gives energy, stimulates metabolism, improves mental faculties and promotes diuresis. On the other hand, however, excessive consumption may interfere with sleep quality and damage the heart.
Alcohol, for its part, tends to relax muscles and nerves, increasing feelings of fatigue and negatively affecting attention span.
So, considering the characteristics of both substances, mixing alcohol and caffeine, in the long run, may not be a healthy choice.
The negative effects of mixing, would be four in particular:
- First, the energizing properties of coffee and the feeling of intoxication from alcohol tend to overlap. So, although the body feels energized, it has simply undergone a kind of deception, in which caffeine sops up the effect of alcohol, but does not eliminate it.
- The heart suffers from the synergistic effect of these two substances, which affect both heart rate and blood pressure.
- In terms of calories, caffè laced is absolutely higher in sugar than traditional espresso. This could affect weight but also diabetes and cholesterol levels.
- Finally, there is the risk of losing too much fluid, as both alcohol and caffeine tend to dehydrate and stimulate diuresis.
Therefore, okay to caffè corretto, but exclusively in small doses. Only moderate intake, in fact, can avoid these risks and safeguard the body’s well-being.
How to prepare a great caffè corretto
Coffee laced is a tasty drink that has many admirers, as it tends to warm, relaxes and aids digestion. In fact, the mix of alcohol and coffee is extremely aromatic and tickles the palate in a unique way. Recipes for coffee laced are countless, as are the local traditions, liqueurs and spirits on the market; commonly used alcohols include rum, brandy, grappa, sambuca and cream of whiskey, but everyone can decide on the modification according to his or her own taste.
In general, sweet liqueurs are preferable to more sour or bitter ones, and in any case, the choice should fall on products with strong prerogatives at the aromatic level, so that coffee does not have the upper hand.
As for coffee, there is no doubt that it must possess character and taste, so that in coffee laced it does not lose its identity and express its aromatic notes to the fullest. Therefore, great care must be taken in the choice of the blend and the entire brewing process. The optimal method for extracting espresso is the lever coffee machine, with which you can manage the extraction time and impart perfect characteristics to the coffee.
To make the best caffè corretto at home, or in your establishment, therefore, you just have to try Pontevecchio lever coffee machines. Discover the models available on our site and find the right one for you: the coffee will be delicious, laced or not!