Val d’Aosta Coffee

Caffè Valdostano

Cesare Pinuccia and François Gaetani gave me this ‘friendship cup’ to drink on my last visit to their home in Bianaz in Val d’Aosta. The Grolla (the wooden bowl from which you drink the coffee) has several spouts. It is apparently very important not to change direction when passing round the Grolla, and the coffee must be drunk to the very last drop. (I think it’s just an excuse for getting extremely drunk!)


  • 4 small cups coffee
  • 2 small cups grappa
  • ½ cup Cointreau or other liqueur
  • 1 strip orange rind
  • 1 strip lemon rind sugar to taste


Pour the boiling-hot coffee into the Grolla, then add all the other ingredients and stir. Light the grappa with a match: this will cause a transparent blue flame to shoot up. Put the lid on the Grolla immediately and pass it round the table. Each person drinks from the Grolla as a sign of friendship.