International Coffee

Yes, Caffè Marocchino Is Named after a Fedora

Despite its moniker, the Italian coffee drink has nothing to do with Morocco.

By Paul Galvani March 1, 2021 Published in the December 2020 issue of Houstonia Magazine

Image: Amy Kinkead

In Italian, Marocchino means Moroccan, but caffè Marocchino, invented in the 1950s, has nothing to do with Morocco itself. The name is actually derived from the fact that baristas at Bar Carpano, a coffee bar located in Alessandria, a northern Italian town in the Piedmont region, simply sat opposite to the headquarters of famed Italian hat manufacturer Borsalino. The drink, originally made of espresso, cocoa powder, and foamed milk, happened to be the same shade—marocchino—as the strip of light brown leather sewn inside each Borsalino fedora. Thus, a style of coffee was born.

The Italian Job, located inside Bravery Chef Hall, takes the basic concept of the Marocchino and runs with it.

“We use a real bar of chocolate, not syrup or powder,” owner David Anzario says. “That’s why it tastes smooth and creamy.”

Image: Amy Kinkead

A barista breaks up half a bar of dark chocolate in a cup, blowtorches it into a rich, dark, chocolate syrup, and adds a strong espresso shot and lathered milk on top, along with whipped cream and another dollop of chocolate sauce for good measure.

Sipping this über-decadent creation is an exercise in contrasts, from the hot coffee to the cold cream; the sweet chocolate to the bitter coffee; the silky liquid to the errant morsels of chocolate in the cup. Then, all too soon, you find yourself licking the remnants, the clearest indicator that you’ve had a true Marocchino.

The Italian Job Downtown

409 Travis St,

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