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About the Foundation

Spirited coffee

Known in Italy as 'caffè corretto', the ancient practice of adding a dash of alcohol to a shot of espresso has led to numerous recipes and customs. The friendship cup, typical of the Val d’Aosta in Italy, adds a touch of conviviality to this type of drink.
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Friendship cup from the Aosta Valley, Italy, 2000 © Alimentarium

The caffè corretto tradition

Mixing coffee and alcohol is an ancient practice in many countries. For many years, in rural areas, it was customary to add a few drops of locally produced alcohol to one’s coffee, sometimes discretely, on the basis (or excuse) that it was ‘invigorating’. Traditions developed everywhere along with a myriad of recipes. Some examples include Irish coffee made with a dash of whiskey, café ‘brulot’ in New Orleans with cognac and café bourguignon with red wine or marc (pomace brandy) from Burgundy. The Val d’Aosta in Italy developed its own particularly festive tradition that is very popular in winter months and is highly original, as guests drink coffee and alcohol from a convivial ‘friendship cup’.

A folklore coffee tradition

Wooden friendship cups are typical of the Italian Val d’Aosta and some of the neighbouring valleys. They are a variation of the grolla, which is made of precious wood. While a grolla is used for drinking wine, friendship cups are used to serve coffee with grappa, orange zest and sugar. The mixture is then flambéed. Guests then take turns drinking from the same cup, each person taking a sip from a different ‘spout’, without their mouths actually touching it. The cup is only set down when it is empty. This tradition, which was still very popular in the last century, especially during the winter, is waning now, mainly for reasons of hygiene. Thus the coppa dell’amicizia (as it is called in Italian) is gradually becoming a souvenir for folklore enthusiasts.