A cafe in Florence has been fined €1,000 (£846) after a customer raved about the price of a humble cup of espresso.
The customer called the police after being charged €2 (£1.7) for his coffee – decaffeinated, to boot – at Ditta Artigianale in the center of the Tuscan town.
The man complained that the price was not displayed on a menu behind the counter. It was this mistake that put the bar, famous for its coffee making and which has won several competitions, in trouble.
Francesco Sanapo, the owner of Ditta Artigianale, spoke about the fine on social media and defended his coffee, which he said comes from a small plantation in Mexico and “is prepared with great care by my baristas”. . He argued that the price of coffee was displayed on a digital menu.
“They fined me because someone was offended for paying €2 for a decaffeinated coffee [which involves a water extraction process]. Can you believe it?” Sanapo said in a video while holding up a letter from the police. “Even today, someone can be so angry that they mobilize the police, who find us at fault because of an outdated law. This law must be changed because otherwise 99.9% of bars and restaurants would easily fall under it.
In Italy, the average price of an espresso is €1, although more than 70% of bars raised prices earlier in the year due to supply chain issues and poor harvests. Consumer groups have warned that the price of an espresso could reach €1.50 on average this year.
Sanapo said Ditta Artigianale – described on Facebook as the “first Italian coffee bar dedicated to quality coffee” – was somewhat “groundbreaking” when it charged €1.50 for an espresso when the bar opened in 2013. “There were negative and positive reactions, but until now I had never received a fine,” he said. “No one should be scandalized anymore to pay 2 euros for an espresso,” he added, citing the rising cost of raw materials.
The Florentine branch of Confartigianato, an association of small businesses, defended the bar. “It’s something that annoys me deeply,” said its president, Alessandro Vittorio Sorani. “There is a lot of work to be done to produce a quality product. Quality pays off and benefits everyone.
Some bar patrons also came to his defense. “If this client went to London he would implicate the FBI,” one wrote on Facebook.