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Sicily is a land of vineyards, olive trees, citrus fruits, but also of coffee. An experimental project has been going on for about 30 years that has seen the birth and growth of coffee plants also on the island, also favored by significant climate change. To test the possibility of growing coffee in Italy without the use of greenhouses is the Morettino family whose plantation is one of those further north compared to the typical tropical lands. The first experiment in the garden of the historic family roasting company has about 60 plants of Coffea Arabica, Bourbon and Catuai varieties, born from seeds donated in the 1990s by the Botanical Garden of Palermo and planted at about 350 meters above sea level in the hamlet of San Lorenzo ai Colli, in Palermo. From these seeds, over the years coffee plants have grown in the open air that have been able to courageously adapt to the Sicilian climate at latitudes far superior to those of the ‘Coffee Belt’, the area between the two Tropics where it is grown. coffee between Latin America, East Africa and Southeast Asia.
This year, in the centenary of Morettino, we can speak of an excellent harvest, with 30 kg, and of a coffee native to Sicily of the highest quality, with particular and unique scents, typical of the Sicilian land, such as notes of zibibbo and carob grapes and sweet hints of white pomelia flowers and panela sugar. “We were surprised by the abundant harvest of our plants, which we interpreted as a gift for all the love that our family has given them over the years” comments Arturo Morettino, who closely followed the evolution of plants and drupes over the years. The manual harvesting, which took place between July and September, was followed by the processing of the coffee with the Gold Honey method, manual pulping, fermentation for 48 hours and drying in the sun. Then the choice of a medium-light toasting. “The sensory characteristics of this native Sicilian coffee are a unique result that fills us with pride – explains Andrea Morettino, fourth generation of the Palermo family of roasters – nature has given us a strong signal that deserves to be listened to and valued.
We are witnessing strong climatic changes, with strong signs of intolerance and risks for traditional crops such as citrus fruits, but also unexpected potentialities as demonstrated by the success of tropical fruit crops in Sicily such as Sicilian mango, papaya, avocado, kiwi or lychee “.
The short-term objective is not marketing but an experimental supply chain project with the involvement of the University of Palermo and the Botanical Garden, of specialists such as Adriano Cafiso, who takes care of relations directly with small plantation growers in the main countries of origin of coffee.
In the week that celebrates International Coffee Day on October 1, the University of Palermo will hold the inauguration of the academic year 2021-2022 of the master’s degree course “Mediterranean Food Science and Technology” at the Morettino Coffee Museum. A meeting in which we will talk about the climate changes underway, the tropicalization of the climate in Sicily and the experimental path of coffee cultivation on the island. The event is also part of the exclusive Coffee Boom calendar, the Sca Italia event that involves the best coffee roasters in Italy.