Posted in Kafevend Blog
Searching for a suitably Halloween themed drink I happened upon witch's coffee, a coffee liqueur, which sounds especially enticing as the winter begins to hint of its approach. While we're all familiar with Irish coffee, witch's coffee may be a new one on you. It comes to us courtesy of the Italian city of Benevento.
Situated some thirty miles away from Naples, Benevento has been an important city since Roman times and is also inextricably linked with witches. Its Roman name was Beneventum, meaning 'place of good events', though it was first known as Maleventum, which of course means 'place of bad events', so quite a U-turn in circumstances! During the Roman era the cult of Isis had a strong following in the area. Isis was the goddess of magic and healing, so there's the first witch clue. By the sixth century Benevento had been swept up into the Lombard kingdom; the Lombards, or Langobards, were a Germanic tribe who ruled the central and southern area of Italy for over two centuries. They brought with them their own pagan religion and so the witch tradition continued to flourish.
Despite Italy's role as the hub of Catholicism, the legend has persisted and in 1860 gave Giuseppe Alberti the name for his newly invented liqueur. Thus Liquore Strega was inspired by città delle streghe - city of witches, Benevento's alternative appellation. Strega is a combination of seventy herbs and spices and its yellow colour comes from the inclusion of saffron. Its dominant flavours and aromas are mint and juniper, so expect your witch's coffee to have mint and pine overtones – sounds quite refreshing really. And if you can find some quickly enough, you'll have a drink to look forward to once the trick or treaters have given up and left you alone!