Do You Eat the Coffee Beans in Sambuca?

A combination of liquor and coffee is common in Mediterranean and Latin traditions. Usually, alcoholic beverages like Kahlua, ouzo, Tia Maria, and brandy are added to espresso to enjoy after a meal or for a midafternoon pause. In this article, you will learn about Sambuca – how it’s made, how to drink it, the meaning of the coffee beans in Sambuca, and many more. Read on.

sambuca with coffee

What is Sambuca?

Sambuca is an Italian Liqueur that is produced with anise along with other spices and herbs. The primary flavoring used in Sambuca is the star anise essential oils, which give it the distinct licorice flavor. The strong anise flavors from Sambuca complement well with the earthy notes of coffee. Other components of Sambuca are granulated sugar, alcohol, flavorings such as elderberry, and aromatic medicinal herbs. A lot of sugar is added to Sambuca to sweeten the drinks. And as a result of its sweet taste, Sambuca is sometimes added to coffee to replace sugar. Usually, the liqueur comes in three colors – these are white or clear, black (which looks like deep purple or blue), and red. The most popular Sambuca brands include Romano, Sambuca dI Amore, Molinari, Galliano, Zambello, Luxardo, and Opal Nera.

Each of these Sambuca brands has its secret recipes. However, all the Sambuca’s have a similar general flavor profile. Sambuca is used to make cocktails or enjoyed as a digestif after a meal. Additionally, Sambuca is enjoyed “con la Mosca (with fly)”, which means with three coffee beans. To make Sambuca, you’ll need to float three coffee beans. Usually, you are not supposed to float an even number of beans since it is considered bad luck. The beverage has different applications and ways of serving that we’ll discuss.

The beneficial properties of the beverage include improving your digestive tract, speeding up metabolism, preventing the formation of inflammatory infections in the lungs, bronchi, and your body as a whole, and killing harmful bacteria. Additionally, Sambuca helps fight the first symptoms of a cold or flu, thus eliminating them at the first stage. Generally, consumption of Sambuca in small quantities increases your overall performance and vitality.

What is the Meaning of the Coffee Beans in Sambuca?

As mentioned earlier, you’re supposed to float three coffee beans when making Sambuca. So, what’s the meaning of these coffee beans? The garnish in Sambuca is more symbolic and wholesome. Usually, the three coffee beans in Sambuca symbolize three things – happiness, health, and prosperity. These beans are supposed to be blessings that bring you happiness, great prosperity, and good health in days to come. So, why three beans and not two or four?

It’s believed that adding an odd number of coffee beans to Sambuca brings you more luck, unlike an even number. The coffee beans add flavor to the anise liqueur in the drink. Additionally, the number three is considered an important number in the Christian religion since it represents the Holy Trinity. Therefore, Italians feel that adding three coffee beans to Sambuca is a great way to honor their religion and tradition as well.

Do You Eat the Coffee Beans in Sambuca?

The three coffee beans in Sambuca represent happiness, health, and prosperity. You can chew them to complement Sambuca’s anise notes or leave them as garnish. Additionally, putting an even number of the coffee beans in Sambuca is considered bad luck.

How to Drink Sambuca

There are several ways to drink Sambuca and most of them are easy to apply at home. They include:

A Burning Pile

This method is popular among the Russians since it somehow resembles the drinking of vodka culture. The method involves putting three coffee beans in a 60-gram glass and pouring 50 ml of liqueur into the glass. Then set the Sambuca on fire by lighting a match and gently bringing it to the surface of the drink. Let the fire burn for 5 to 8 seconds then extinguish it with one strong exhalation. After that, drink the liqueur in one gulp while hot, and chew the coffee beans.

Additionally, pay attention to the glass you’ll use. The glass should have thick walls and excellent refractoriness to avoid bursting. The burning pile method of drinking sambuca is used to treat diseases such as flu, runny nose, cold, wet, and dry cough. Most importantly, if you drink Sambuca to treat these diseases, don’t chew or bite the coffee beans.

Sambuca with Water

Sambuca with mineral water is suitable while in the heat, on a trip to the sea, or for a party by the pool. You’ll need to place a bottle of water in the freezer until it is in ice crystals form (exposure time depends on your machine’s power). After that, mix the water with the liqueur in 1:2 or 1:3 ratios, meaning one liqueur part is to two or three parts of water. Keep in mind that the more the water you add, the lower the liqueur strength. Immediately after adding water, the mixture becomes cloudy as a result of essential oils that are poorly soluble in water.

Pure Sambuca

Sambuca in its pure form is excellent as a digestif – dessert drink served after dishes. Pure Sambuca is served on a full stomach ideally after dinner (around 8-9 pm). Additionally, Sambuca in its pure form is drunk in a cold state. So you may need to cool the drink by putting the bottle in a freezer for 20 to 30 minutes. After cooling Sambuca, pour it into a glass and drink in one gulp. Eat a slice of orange, grapefruit, or pomelo.

Flame in the Mouth

This method is considered the most original drinking method of Sambuca and it is suitable for those who love strong cocktails and thrills. To translate this method into reality, you’ll need some assistance. To drink Sambuca using this method, you’ll need to put liqueur in your mouth (a little bit of it), do not swallow. Ensure there is no liqueur on your lips – take a paper towel or napkin, wipe your lips and eliminate possible liqueur drops.

Sit on a chair that has a back and relax. Lift your chin down and lower your lower jaw, opening your mouth wide. After this, your assistant should light a match and gently bring it to your mouth, thus setting fire to the liqueur. After some seconds of burning (3 seconds), you’ll feel a slight tingling and some heat generation. At this moment, you’ll need to close your mouth, return your head to an upright position, and wait for about 5 seconds, then swallow the liqueur.

This way of drinking Sambuca may seem spectacular, but it’s extremely dangerous. If you lack experience drinking liqueurs this way, don’t risk it. Bartenders or lovers of “hotter” can be entrusted with this procedure.

The Italian Way

This way of drinking Sambuca is also called the “two glasses” or “with flies”. This method uses the three coffee beans representing happiness, health, and prosperity, which play the flies’ role. In this method, you’ll need three coffee beans (roasting doesn’t matter), paper napkins, matches, two glasses, and cocktail tubes that have a corrugated bend.

In the preparation stage, you’re required to place the coffee beans in a glass, then add 60ml Sambuca into the glass. Take a paper napkin and fold it in four turns. Make a hole in the middle of the napkin using a tube, so that the corrugation is exactly on the edges of the hole.

When you’re done with the preparation stage, head to the main stage. You’ll need to light a match, take the glass with liqueur and tilt it in a way the liqueur surface is at an angle. Slide the lit match into the other glass, set it on fire, and twist the glass in your hands for four to five seconds. Pour the flaming liqueur into the second glass, and cover it on top. Wait for the fire to go out, then carefully transfer the first glass in which vapor has gathered to the napkin. First, drink the Sambuca from the glass in a gulp. Then hold the coffee beans in your mouth at your tongue’s edge, take some deep breaths through a tube and chew the coffee beans. You can repeat this procedure as many times as you like. However, keep in mind that it takes 40 minutes for Sambuca’s full effects on the brain. Therefore, take your time so that you don’t get too drunk.

The glasses used for this method are called cognac glasses (“snifter” or “Rox”). If you don’t have these glasses, pour the Sambuca into ordinary juice glasses, set the drink on fire, blow it out, wait for it to cool a little, then drink it as you chew the coffee beans.

What is the meaning of the Three Coffee Beans in Espresso Martini?

The espresso martini contains generous vodka shots, coffee liqueur such as Kahlua, and espresso. Just like Sambuca, espresso martini is made as an after-dinner drink. When it comes to garnishing espresso martini, three coffee beans are arranged in petal form and they float in the center of the drink’s creamy surface. The three coffee beans in the espresso martini symbolize health, wealth, and happiness. Additionally, the coffee beans serve as one of the martini’s trademarks. You can eat the three coffee beans in an espresso martini like any other coffee bean.

What Do You Call Coffee with Sambuca?

Coffee with Sambuca is known as “Caffe corretto” in Italy, and “espresso corretto”, outside Italy. “Caffe corretto” consists of a shot of espresso combined with a small amount of liquor such as Sambuca, brandy, tequila, or grappa.

What are the Ingredients in Sambuca?

Sambuca contains two primary elements – green anise and star anise. Additionally, Sambuca contains high sugar content (350 grams/liter) and alcohol content of 38% by volume. Some Sambuca’s may include other botanicals and colors like green anise, fennel, licorice, and elderflower. Sambuca is popular as a digestif and preferably enjoyed “con la Mosca – with fly”.

What Do You Call a Mixture of Coffee with Alcohol?

A mixture of coffee and a shot of liqueur is known as liqueur coffee. It is usually served in a liqueur glass, accompanied mostly by cream and sugar.

What is a Caffe Corretto?

Generally, a Caffe corretto is an Italian drink that has liqueur and coffee in one cup. Caffe corretto means “corrected coffee” and is made by adding a drizzle of grappa, brandy, and Sambuca to freshly made espresso. When ordering a Caffe corretto, specify the liqueur you want by saying either corretto Alla Sambuca or corretto Alla grappa.

How Do You Drink Caffe Corretto?

As mentioned earlier, Caffe corretto is made by adding drops of liqueur (Sambuca, brandy, or grappa) into your coffee or espresso shot. The liqueur is either served separately in a shot of glass or by giving you the entire bottle, so you can prepare your perfect coffee-to-liqueur ratio.

Is Ouzo Similar to Sambuca?

Ouzo and Sambuca may seem similar since they are made with anise, which is a fragrant seed that gives a distinct licorice-like flavor. However, the two drinks have some slight differences. For example, ouzo is from Greece, while Sambuca is from Italy.

Are there any Health Benefits of Drinking Sambuca?

There are several benefits of drinking Sambuca. They include:

  • Boost your immune system as a result of the antioxidants and vitamins present in the berries and elderberry flowers used to make Sambuca.
  • Elderberry in Sambuca helps prevent and ease flu and cold symptoms.
  • Elderberry in Sambuca also helps prevent osteoporosis in diabetes and against oxidation.
  • Sambuca may also help reduce blood pressure as a result of elderberry, which acts as a natural diuretic.
  • Sambuca also tames inflammation, reduces stress, and protects against cell damage that may lead to cancer, heart disease, and other chronic health conditions.

Why is Sambuca Served After Meals?

Usually, Sambuca is served after meals as a digestive aid. Additionally, it’s added to coffee in place of sugar due to its sweetness.


Read: Does Coffee Liqueur Have Caffeine?

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