What is Bicerin Coffee and how was it invented?
To understand the origins of Bicerin coffee, we must first travel to Turin, Italy in the year, 1763. A man by the name of Guiseppe Dentis opens a small coffee shop along the cobblestone streets of the Piazza della Consolata, just across from the Santuario della Consolata. The Santuario della Consolata is a basilica located at the heart of Turin, serving the many Roman Catholics of the city, a large portion of whom partake in the religious observation of Lent (this will be important later on).
With Guiseppe Dentis’ coffee shop ready to open for business, all he needed to do was think of a name. Sitting down on the wooden bench of his coffee shop, he picked up a small glass and whispered the word, Bicerin. Thus in a eureka-like moment, Giuseppe had come up with an elegantly beautiful name for his coffee shop, Caffé al Bicerin.
Though the coffee shop itself had been founded, the drink which would make it iconic had yet to be created. However, it would not take long before those at Caffé al Bicerin would concoct the delicious drink. Inspired by the drink, the bavareisa, those at the Caffé al Bicerin would innovate on the drink by separating the coffee from the chocolate and milk rather than mixing them all together.
At first, the Caffé al Bicerin would serve the espresso, milk, and chocolate in three different glasses but towards the start of the nineteenth century, they began to pour the drink into one glass. With this change, the Caffé al Bicerin provided three different varieties of the drink: pur e fiur (similar to a cappuccino), pur e barba (coffee and chocolate), and n poc ‘d tut (a little bit of everything). The n poc ‘d tut would go on to become the most popular variety of the three drinks, and would soon take on the name of the small glass which it was served in, Bicerin.
As time went on, the drink would only gain more popularity within the city of Turin, and soon even found itself being a favorite amongst faithful Catholics who could drink the hot chocolate drink during Lent as it was not considered to be food. The drink is now considered to be a symbol of Turin and was also partly responsible for the inspiration of the chocolatey mocha coffee.
A Bicerin Coffee Recipe
The following recipe is courtesy of Eataly.
In order to make yourself two servings of Bicerin, you will first need the following ingredients:
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream, chilled
- 2 tablespoons of confectioners sugar
- 1 cup whole milk
- 3 oz bittersweet dark chocolate
- 2 shots of hot espresso
Take your 1 cup of heavy whipping cream and your 2 tablespoons of confectioners sugar and mix them using a hand mixer for one minute.
Afterward, take your 1 cup of whole milk and pour it into a saucepan, heating it up to a simmer. While simmering, add your 3 oz of bittersweet dark chocolate. With low heat, begin to whisk the milk and chocolate together until the mixture begins to thicken.
After the drinking chocolate and whipped cream are prepared, brew 2 shots of hot espresso the way you like.
Now using a see-through glass, pour the drinking chocolate as the first layer, followed by the shot of espresso as the second, and finally the whipped cream as the third layer. In order to ensure the three layers are maintained, use the back of a spoon whilst pouring your shot of espresso.
Now, knowing the history of the Bicerin—as well as how to make the drink—sit down and enjoy your own glass of Bicerin. Bon appetit!