Morettino tests coffee growing in Sicily

Morettino is not a tiny player in the world of coffee in Italy. The 100-plus year-old roaster has an annual turnover of €6 million, 400 coffee shops in the peninsula, and its coffee is also sold in some of the best foodservice and gourmet retailers around the world. Export is an important part of Morettino’s business strategy, with 50% growth in the last few years. Palermo, Sicily-based Morettino’s coffee is distributed in 40 countries over the world, among which are the USA, Russia and Northern Europe.

The pandemic has propelled Morettino entrepreneurs to develop two innovative projects. The first is a Coffee Lab and micro roastery, which is next to Morettino’s Coffee Museum. The Coffee Lab showcases leading cultural changes in the approach to coffee and aims to inspire more knowledgeable and respectful coffee consumption.

“With the Morettino Coffee Lab we want to involve, inform and excite the consumer by giving them a key role while drinking the coffee,” said Andrea Morettino, a fourth-generation member of the family of roasters. “One can choose the type of coffee: single origin Arabicas or multiple origins blends as well as the traditional espresso, mocha or filter coffee.

The experimental coffee plantation in Sicily is the second project. No greenhouses, just the Sicilian sun. The coffee plants grow with natural cultivation and care methods. The 2021 yield was small – only 30 kilos – but it was hand plucked to extract the beans, then fermented for 48 hours and dried in the sun before being roasted. “We were surprised by the sensory characteristics of this native Sicilian coffee,” said Morettino. “We are witnessing strong climatic changes that should make us reflect on the present and future of our land, which has shown signs of intolerance and risks for traditional crops such as citrus, but also unexpected potential as shown by the success of tropical fruit crops in Sicily.”

Morettino coffee is conducting experiments on other terroirs in collaboration with the University of Palermo, the Botanical Garden and specialists in coffee-processing methods.

“Our small plot will not change the balance of the coffee world, but for us, this harvest was a signal that we want to turn into an opportunity,” shared Morettino. “We believe in [giving back] to the land, because it [means] giving a future to many young people.”

For more information on Morettino’s experimental coffee plantation, its Coffee Lab or its Coffee Museum, visit: morettino.com.

Dominique Huret has been a journalist in the beverage and packaging sectors since 2005 and is co-founder of Cape Decision, a consultancy based in Brussels, Belgium. She may be reached at [email protected]

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