Coffee prices: Customer at coffee bar in Florence, Italy calls police over price of espresso

Look, I get it - sometimes at the counter you can get a little carried away with all the toppings and trimmings, turning what would have been a $5 coffee into an extra-large-coconut-milk-decaf-vanilla-shot-whipped-cream concoction with a price tag of $15. And yes, that can be a little bit of a blow.

But in Italy, a customer recently became so heated at the price of his espresso, he actually called the police.

According to reports, the customer had popped into the café Ditta Artigianale in Florence, the capital of Italy's Tuscany region, for a cup of coffee. However, he quickly got steamed up when he was charged €2 (NZ$3.30) for his decaffeinated espresso, arguing the price wasn't displayed on the menu behind the counter. 

While you may think calling the police is probably on the extreme end of reactions one might have to the cost of a coffee, it turns out the police actually agreed with him. The officers decided to fine the award-winning bar €1000 (NZ$1659) for failing to display the price of their coffees in-store.

Venting about the fine on social media, Francesco Sanapo - the owner of Ditta Artigianale - defended the price of his coffee, arguing it is "prepared with great care" by his baristas and is sourced from a small plantation in Mexico. He added that while the price may have been missing from the in-store menu, it is included on the coffee bar's website.

"They fined me because somebody got offended for paying €2 for a decaffeinated coffee [which involves a water extraction process]. Can you believe it?" Sanapo fumed in a video, while brandishing a letter from the police. 

"Even today, someone can get so annoyed that they mobilise the police, who find us to be in the wrong due to an outdated law. This law must be changed because otherwise 99.9 percent of bars and restaurants would easily fall foul of it."

The average cost of an espresso in Italy is €1 (NZ$1.65), according to The Guardian. However, more than 70 percent of bars increased their prices earlier in the year in response to supply chain issues and poor harvests. As reported by the outlet, consumer groups have also warned Italians to expect the price of espresso to rise, with predictions a single cup could reach an average cost of €1.50 (NZ$2.50) in 2022.

Sanapo said Ditta Artigianale, described on Facebook as the "first Italian coffee bar dedicated to quality coffee", had been somewhat "revolutionary" when it charged €1.50 for an espresso back in 2013, the year the bar first opened.

"There was [a] negative and positive reaction, but until now I had never been fined," he continued. 

"Nobody should be scandalised about paying €2 for an espresso any more."

The Florence branch of Confartigianato, an association for small businesses, has also spoken out in defence of Ditta Artigianale, with its president, Alessandro Vittorio Sorani, saying the recent case "deeply embitters" him.

"A great deal of work goes into producing a quality product. Quality pays off and benefits everyone," he said, as reported by The Guardian.

Some of the bar's loyal customers have also rushed to defend the venue on social media, with one joking that if the man had the same reaction in London, he would've involved the FBI.