In Italy the ritual of coffee is very widespread and, although many people love the flavour of traditional coffee, many others try barley coffee and decide they can´t do without its particular distinctive flavour. Orzo is also chosen by those who, for whatever reason, need to avoid caffeine or choose to follow a more balanced diet and want the beneficial effects of barley.
Popular all over the world, barley coffee has found particular success in our country, where practically every bar and restaurant serves it.
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What is orzo coffee?
What we know as "orzo coffee" is actually made by infusing barley that has been roasted and ground. So it bears no relation to traditional coffee, but shares the same pleasant ritual of sitting round a table and enjoying a cup of intensely-flavoured liquid.
Barley has been consumed since antiquity, due to its many beneficial properties. It is almost certainly one of the first plants humans ever cultivated, and in Ancient Rome and Greece it was commonly eaten in the form of soups and bread, or taken as a drink.
Valued for its excellent nutritional properties, the virtues of barley were even extolled by Hippocrates, who encouraged its consumption to stimulate the mind and body. Even when barley was gradually replaced by other cereals such as wheat, many people continued to consume it and appreciate its flavour and its benefits.
Where did the recent custom of orzo coffee come from? During the Second World War, restrictions on the import of many foodstuffs and the increase in the price of goods forced restaurateurs and bar owners to use their ingenuity to come up with interesting products for their customers. Due to the scarcity of coffee, they began to roast barley and offer it as an alternative for leisure time at the bar.
Since then, the custom has never been lost, and orzo coffee still delights the palates of many consumers.
Further reading: Organic coffee: all you need to know about organic growing.
The nutritional properties of orzo coffee
Barley coffee not only has a flavour that pleases many people, it is also recommended in the diet, for a number of reasons. First and foremost, we should consider the nutritional properties of this beverage.
Orzo coffee contains just 20 calories per 100 ml, making it a particularly low-calorie choice, ideal for anyone trying to lose weight. Obviously, to avoid cancelling out the beneficial properties of barley, it´s a good idea to avoid excessive sugar or replace it with honey or brown sugar.
Moreover, barley contains starch, a sugar that is easily assimilated and provides instant energy, as well as a number of vitamins such as B2, B3 and E. It also contains minerals including iron, phosphorous, calcium, zinc, potassium and magnesium. 100g grammes of orzo coffee provides approximately 80-85 g of carbohydrates, 5-10 g of proteins and 3 g of fat.
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The properties of orzo coffee
Barley coffee does not contain caffeine: this is one of the main advantages of this product, which can be enjoyed by anyone at any age and any time of day. It does not cause agitation or raised blood pressure, allowing us to enjoy a delicious drink without worrying.
What else is orzo coffee good for? Consuming roasted barley helps to control blood sugar, and is therefore recommended for anyone suffering from diabetes or hyperglycaemia: the cause of this beneficial action is beta-glucan, which can slow the absorption of carbohydrates and lower the glycemic index.
Barley also reduces cholesterol and is ideal for anyone suffering from metabolic disorders. Another benefit of barley is its ability to regulate intestinal function, facilitating transit and preventing problems with the mucous membrane.
The high phosphorous content boosts brain function and the presence of iron is beneficial for anemia. And there´s more: barley also has notable anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties; all this should not be underestimated when it comes to deciding what to order at the bar or prepare at home.
Further reading: 7 things you should know about decaffeinated coffee.
How to make orzo coffee
Barley coffee is generally prepared in the same way as conventional coffee. So you can use a moka pot, using ground barley instead of coffee, or try one of the blends containing coffee and barley, perfect if you can´t do without the flavour of coffee but also want the benefits of barley.
Orzo can also be infused for a few minutes in boiling water; the method known as "Turkish". In this case, don´t forget to strain the liquid before serving. With the widespread use of domestic coffee machines, barley coffee in capsules has also become popular, which give very similar results to the bar.
If you´re looking for a practical solution, there´s also soluble barley coffee, i.e. a powdered form that just needs to be dissolved in hot water before giving pleasure to your tastebuds.
Where can I find orzo coffee?
At the Caffè Corsini shop you´ll find a wide selection of barley coffee, available in a range of forms to cater for every need. If your preference is capsules, there´s Barley Espresso in a handy pack of 18 single portions.
You´ll also find soluble orzo capsules, compatible with domestic Nespresso machines. Not to mention a blend of 50% coffee and 50% barley, and instant soluble barley if you want your favourite flavour immediately.
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