Caffe Valdostana – Coffee from Valle d’Aosta and the Friendship Cup
Christmas Traditions and Winter Holidays sometimes become confused. The Coppa dell’Amicizia, Friendship Cup, is an antique after dinner tradition of this region hidden in the Italian Alps. Traditionally Caffe Valdostana is served only in the winter months.
The birth of this specialty is accredited to the "Marroniers" or "Soldats de la neige" of Saint Rhemy En Bosses who patrolled the mountains of the Gran San Bernardo from 1100 through 1930. These mountain soldiers acted as guides and offered refuge to travelers. Caffe Valdostana became a tradition because not just the soldiers needed extra energy to fight the cold and hostile environment. This coffee was the favorite of lumberjacks, miners, bricklayers and farmers who would prepare a pot of Caffe Valdostana, or simply with grappa, for a nice pick me up during the cold winter days.
There were numerous other coffee drinks around at the time but Caffe Valdostana was the favorite. Passed down from generation to generation each family developed their own special recipe. Other than the basic ingredients listed here there are numerous other things that can be added to the basic recipe. Cognac, Rhum, Genepy, Plum Grappa, Butter and Orange peel are some of the ways to personalize your caffe Valdostana.
This hot coffee drink has its own way to be served. The Friendship cup is a hand carved wooden cup. The cup has numerous spouts. The Caffe Valdostana is prepared, poured into the Friendship cup and the cover placed on. The cup is then passed around and each member of the group drinks from a different spout. The Coppa Amicizia, Friendship cup, is a novelty for Italians across the peninsula. The workmanship is unique and the cups are purchased as collector's items or as decorative objects to be shown off with pride.
The tradition requires that the each individual of the group must continue to drink a small amount of coffee from the Coppa Amicizia. The cup is then passed to the next individual in turn. This continues until all the coffee is consumed. While there is Caffe Valdostana the cup must never be put down. There is also a saying, “He who drinks Caffe Valdostana alone, will choke.”
2 cups long coffee. I make a “6 cup Moka” and add boiling water to make up the difference.
¾ cups strong Grapa, at least 45% per volume, preferably from Valle d’Aosta
¼ cups Genepy or Cointreau (some areas use red wine)
2 tbsp sugar
Place all the ingredients in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil. Pour into the Coppa Amicizia.
Wet the rim of the spouts with Grappa. Crust the rim of the spouts with sugar. I use a teaspoon with sugar and quickly press it on the rim. Light the Caffe Valdostana. Allow the alcohol to burn until the sugar caramelizes. Cover the opening with its top and drink hardy!
Tags: Valle d'Aosta Coppa Amicizia Caffe Valdostana Gourmet Coffee Grappa Friuli Italian Holiday Traditions Food and Wine Travel Italy