CAFFE PASCUCCI'S foray into Malaysia is a chance for coffee aficionados here to finally drink coffee brewed the true Italian way. Italians have always been known for their great coffee, and would often look with scorn upon branded coffee chains for overly-roasting their beans and serving burnt, bitter cups of joe. I have always been told that if a cup of coffee tastes displeasingly bitter, it has not been made the right way. Indeed, there is a fine distinction between flatly bitter and pleasantly bitter, and Eddy Righi, the barista trainer for Caffe Pascucci Italy, demonstrated this when he dropped by Kuala Lumpur for the brand’s official launch recently. For those unfamiliar with the brand, the Pascucci family first started brewing the iconic beverage over a century ago in a small town in Italy. What initially began as a small, provincial business eventually grew to some 500 outlets in over 20 countries today. The Italian barista, who works closely with the Pascucci family back home, is the Italian Brewers Cup Champion 2016 title holder – which is pretty much the Oscar awards for coffee-brewing. As such, he knew what he was talking about. For Righi, a good cup of coffee goes beyond mere taste. He cited three ethos – tradition, innovation, and love. These values have to be carried by all baristas in the Caffe Pascucci chain. Righi explained that baristas are required to be well-versed with the history behind every cup of coffee they are brewing for customers. “They need to be able to explain [what goes into] the cup step by step, where the beans were produced, how much of them are roasted, how quick [the coffee beans] arrive in Malaysia after roasting, and how the coffee is brewed … That, I think, makes the coffee experience unique.” To further add to the overall coffee experience that the Pascucci family has diligently offered over the years, the brand practises strict quality control for its products. Righi is in charge of the coffee menu in all the brand’s outlets all over the world. Every outlet also carries the brand’s signature choices such as cappuccino, americano, and espresso, as well as filtered coffee brewed from single origin beans from Costa Rica, Colombia, Guatemala, and more. Each franchisee is also given the freedom to prepare other non-coffee beverages to suit the local culture’s taste buds. For example, customers visiting outlets in South Korea will find more iced tea varieties as well as popular Korean lattes in purple sweet potato and yellow pumpkin flavour. “In Italy, we don’t need a lot of smoothies or juices, we only need good espresso-based drinks,” said Righi. “But over here, non-coffee drinks are very important, so we allow [the franchisee] to prepare their own recipes.” This is a win-win situation for the non-coffee drinking market who will be pleased with the variety of Pas-ciok options. A Pas-ciok is essentially a hot beverage made from a melted bar of drinking chocolate – extremely rich, thick and delightful. The chocolate bars used are produced and exported from Rizzati, the Pascucci family’s chocolate company in Ferrara. Righi added that the family is also incredibly proud of its tea selection, with teas imported directly from Sri Lanka, southern China, and more. In Malaysia, there are three Pascucci outlets opened this year all in the Klang Valley, in Tropicana City Mall, Menara Hap Seng 2, and Sunway Pyramid. So far, the favourites for Malaysians are americano, iced americano, cappucino, filter coffee and espresso. “I’m very happy about that because [even though] we have blended coffee and lattes with syrups, those are not the best sellers [and that] means, Malaysians are starting to understand the real approach to coffee.” For the upcoming festive season, Caffe Pascucci will be rolling out two festive coffee beverages – hot mocha pannettone and frappe pannetone – using the brand’s own pannettone syrup as its base.