Tag Archives: Caffe d'orzo

Coffee for hard times in Italy: Caffè d’orzo

Enjoying caffè d’orzo and cornetti in Bologna

Italians had to make do with less – or no – coffee during and after World War II, so they developed an alternative, orzo, roasted barley prepared in the same manner as coffee, in an espresso machine, known as Caffè d’orzo. Orzo means “barley” in Italian, and is also the origin of the small, grain-shaped pasta’s name. Similarly, in the US and elsewhere, chicory became popular as a coffee substitute in lean times, and is still popular in places like at Cafe du Monde in New Orleans. Though, of course, coffee roared back in Italy in the decades after the war, orzo is still hanging on, too, and you can find it in some traditional cafes throughout Italy. The barley imparts a lovely malted, roasty flavor, though no one would mistake it for coffee. I was looking for decaf options in Italy, and both M and I really enjoyed trying orzo with our morning pastries, usually cornetti (croissant-like pastries with various fillings). If you are particularly dedicated to orzo coffee, you can even by a special orzo maker, similar to a Bialetti Moka, an orziera.

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