After my recent foray into a somewhat mysterious end of the market, it’s time to steer back into the mainstream: Segafredo Zanetti’s Intermezzo. The origins of Intermezzo are straightforward – unusually so. Unlike most supermarket coffee, the packaging actually mentions where the beans came from. It appears that they are of Brazilian origin, having been supplied by “Nossa Senhora da Guia”. It seems the roasting and grinding was done in Italy, at Segafredo’s centre of operations in Rastignano (Bologna).
So far, we’re cruising in middle lane. One of the curiosities of coffee, in fact, is that it is near-universally viewed as being quintessentially Italian, even though no coffee whatsoever is actually grown there. The actual coffee bushes are almost all in low-income tropical countries, yet close to zero of the beans that hit the shops in rich countries are roasted and packaged in poor countries.
Fortunately – for the richness of life is so often in the details – this coffee is actually very unusual. Strange epistemological wrinkles in the packaging text aside (to which we’ll return, never fear), and ignoring for a moment the website, there’s an elephant in the room: this coffee is not 100% arabica.
What’s a species between friends? Well, this is in fact a big deal, and a bold move, for would-be gourmet coffee. For decades now, the prevailing wisdom has been that Coffea robusta is for those who don’t care: drinkers of instant, no less, or the watery stew that passes for coffee in your typical American filter jug. Coffea arabica is generally accepted as the only serious-coffee game in town.
With Intermezzo, Segafredo have taken quite a bold move: a blend of arabica and robusta pitched at a fairly high-end market.