London: Bellavita Expo, the annual Italian food and drink event, featured India’s Robusta coffee among the 1000 products on show at the capital’s prestigious Business Design Centre over three lip-smacking days which ended on June 19.

Heady aromas of coffee from all over the world filled the spacious hall, and when Destination Reporter India visited the stand of a Milan firm called Filicori Zecchini, its export manager Davide Fiorentini heaped praise on India’s coffee beans. “Best in the world,” he enthused. “So rich and creamy, full of flavour.”

Forty per cent of the firm’s Robusta coffee beans are imported from India, Fiorentini said. Their brochure states that since the family business began operating in 1919, they “infused all their love for the best quality things; they searched for the best raw materials and studied the secret for the perfect roasting”. The firm also handles tea and chocolate drinks.

On the Bellavita Food Academy stage, speakers stressed the various subtle differences in coffee beans from across the world, depending on “climate, altitude, weather, soil conditions and natural nutrients” and the need to “strike a balance between acidity, sweetness and bitterness” to produce a satisfying cup. “Coffee can be strong but should never be bitter,” experts said.

“There is no place for gimmicks in coffee – the only gimmick is quality.” The art of roasting was discussed at length “to present customers with the best possible brew”.

Milan firm, Sessa Artigiani Del Gusto, set up in 1930, is keen on exporting to India. Its owner, Gaetano Sessa, told Destination Reporter India: “We know that Indians love to eat yoghurt and surely they would appreciate our delicious yoghurt ice cream in flavours like vanilla, strawberry and coffee.”

The show bristled with products spanning wine, beer, hams, cheeses, cakes, pizzas and pastas from the diverse regions of Italy. Cookery demonstrations and talks attracted large audiences, with Michelin-star chefs like Carlo Cracco, Jacob Kenedy, Robert Ortiz and Francesco Mazzei facing a battery of questions and cameras on stage.

Talks aimed at retailers, distributors and importers were held throughout the event. The Wine & Beer Academy had 40 sommeliers from London’s top restaurants competing for an award which tested their knowledge of Italian wines and service skills.

The Italian Trade Agency reported that despite Brexit – the UK’s move to break away from the European Union – trade relations between Italy and the UK showed “no signs of weakening”, with more than £600 million of Italian food and drink imported in the first three months of 2018, registering a 3.25 per cent increase compared with the previous year. Wine imports from Italy also remained buoyant.