Mateo Pinzon

Oh, magnificent Milan, capital of fashion, design, literature, and inspiration. The inspiration that guided Howard Schultz to create the largest coffee corporation in the world, Starbucks, after he visited this remarkable city in 1983. 

The same inspiration that motivated Italian coffee connoisseurs to go against their local tradition of drinking a bitter espresso shot, standing at the coffee bar, and introduce a new concept. To be more accurate, more than going against it, they were seeking to enhance this strong tradition by introducing the world of Specialty Coffee. 

A concept that has been resisted or ignored by a large portion of the Milanese coffee consumers and today is an emerging trend. 

Like in a romantic movie where the gorgeously-irresistible girl slaps the hell out of a tall handsome man, and after 5 seconds of tension they end up kissing passionately for no reason, this somehow explains the relationship between Milan and Specialty coffee. 

Yet, you must be asking yourself…

What the heck is specialty coffee?

To save you from the hard task of Googling it and scrolling through hundreds of elaborate definitions, I’ll try to do my best by simplifying it in a short phrase;

In the long chain of coffee production, from the planting to finally serving the coffee cup (drink), the coffee bean has been treated with such high standards, that the drink receives a score above 80 out of 100 by a qualified Q-grader (a trained and Coffee Quality Institute (CQI) licensed coffee cupper that can evaluate coffees based on the Specialty Coffee Association SCA). 

This coffee provides the consumer with an array of wonderful aromas and flavors, given by the territory where the coffee has been planted, not present on a regular coffee blend. 

Now that you know in theory what specialty coffee is, your intrepid and curious soul must be wondering how it tastes.

Four places in Milan to drink a good cup of specialty coffee and get inspired

If you have the fortune to live in the inspiring Milano, the following is a list of my favorite spots where you can delight your senses with Specialty Coffee. 

This is a small and cozy coffee shop in the Porta Venezia area. A minimalistic place where you get immersed in a truly simple – hipsterish specialty coffee experience. Away from the typical American specialty coffee bar, they don’t roast their coffee, yet they offer a delicious coffee from Gardelli Specialty Coffees. If you have the chance to pass by, try their #Cheerful Black Diamond Las Lajas Costa Rica coffee. It will delight you with its sweet red fruit notes. 

Situated in the heart of the trendy Moscova area, it is the ideal coffee shop for designers and creative minds. Always full of people designing fancy things on their computers or tablets. 

For obvious reasons, this café focuses on featuring the Moleskine products and not providing a full specialty coffee experience. Yet, the coffee offered is a perfect match for this amazingly well-designed space. If you are seeking to get your creative juices going, try the #Cheerful Lot Zero Costa Rica Sonora coffee, roasted by the lovely ladies from Coffee Studio 7Gr. A coffee with exquisite chocolaty flavors and hints of fresh acidity. A masterpiece worth trying brewed in an Aeropress. 

A hidden gem in the heart of Milano, this place is a temple dedicated to coffee. You breathe (they roast their coffee), eat (they prepare delicious sweets and food in which coffee is the main ingredient), and drink (besides a regular coffee cup, they serve mind-blowing coffee cocktails) coffee in this beautiful place. 

Regarding their specialty coffee, treat yourself by ordering coffee San Fedele Blend coffee. A coffee with a #Chill character. Its light body and floral and fruity notes will delight you with relaxing vibes. I suggest you try this blend brewed with a Chemex. 

35 years after his first trip to Milan, Howard Schultz finally achieved his long-desired objective of opening a Starbucks coffee shop in the city that inspired him to build the coffee giant he now owns. He did it the best way possible, a mega coffee shop within an important city landmark, Piazza Cordusio. 

The Starbucks Reserve Roastery is the Disney World of coffee shops. A place where you are entertained by all the elements held inside this magnificent space; a giant roastery plant, baristas with an alchemist soul that brew coffee in machines with mystical artifacts, and all sorts of food that invite you to stay longer among this beautifully coordinated show. 

Regarding the specialty coffee, contrary to what most people believe, it is astonishing. If you are planning to go, either if it’s your first or fiftieth time, do yourself a favor and order their #Adventurous Tanzania Shiviwaka coffee, brewed with a Siphon. Its fresh acidity, green-apple aromas, and nice body are exalted by this peculiar brewing method. 

For sure this list will change shortly since I will keep visiting more coffee roasteries and cafés in Milan.

Hope this article inspired you to give these remarkable places a try, and even more important, to fall in love with specialty coffee. Allow Milan to enchant you with its hidden coffee gems.