The Moretta di Fano: history and recipe for a coffee that comes from the sea

Coffee Recipes

Anyone who has had a chance to stroll along the Adriatic seafront in the summer will probably have tasted the typical drink of this area, namely the Moretta di Fano, a mix of coffee, anise liqueur, rum, and brandy (or cognac), flavored with lemon peel and sugar. 

Much more than a corrected coffee, this drink is perfect as a digestive, especially after hearty Sunday lunches, but also as an energizer, which makes it the favorite drink of sailors. Today we tell you a couple of historical curiosities about Moretta di Fano and give you the directions and recipe for making it at home.

History and interesting facts about the Moretta di Fano

In 2006, the Moretta received recognition as an official cocktail from AIBES, the Italian Association of Barmen and Supporters, and a little later, in 2011, it was declared a Marche Region food product of excellence.

As is often the case with traditional recipes, if one wishes to know its origins, one must untangle history and legend. Many narrate, in fact, that in ancient times, to keep warm during the cold winter nights, sailors used to mix boiling coffee with the leftover grounds in the various liquor bottles, thus creating a hot drink that was different every time. Others believe that a sailor’s thoughtful wife would prepare for her husband a restorative mix of coffee and the liquor she had on hand. Most people, however, usually attribute the name of Moretta di Fano to the label of one of the three liqueurs used for the recipe, which contained the image of a girl with a dark complexion, called Muréta in Fano dialect. 

Regardless of the origins, if you want to taste a Moretta DOC, we recommend you take a walk in Fano. But if you don’t have the chance to go there, here are our suggestions for making it at home. 

The essential tools for making Moretta di Fano

The amber yellow of the alcoholic part, the roasted brown of the coffee, and the lighter brown of the coffee cream are the three colors that distinguish this drink with its unmistakable and persuasive aroma.

As much as it is a typical specialty of the bars in the Marche city, it is unlikely to think that sailors had an espresso machine to make coffee, which, instead, was traditionally prepared with the addition of the three liqueurs and a twist of lemon. That is why, in addition to giving you directions for making it with a professional machine, we will also provide instructions for making it at home with a mocha.

To make Moretta you will need:

  1. Coffee: the basis of a good recipe is having good quality ingredients; therefore, we suggest you choose one of our blends.
  2. Shot glass: the shot glass is indispensable. One of the characteristics of this drink, in fact, is the clear division of the three layers that give rise to three distinct colors.
  3. Lemon peel: this is placed at the bottom of the glass along with the sugar and liqueurs.
  4. Sugar: should be completely dissolved by the steam delivered by the lance of the bar machine. 
  5. The alcohol part: brandy, anise and rum are usually mixed separately. It is easy, however, to find in bars a liqueur already mixed, called just Moretta, containing a mix of the three different liqueurs and convenient to keep at home if you feel like trying your hand at making this drink.

Fano’s Moretta at the bar

The golden rule is: three layers of three different colors. In fact, the alcohol and sugar should be at the base of the glass, the coffee in the middle, and the coffee creamer at the top. 

Ingredients for one person

  • 1 cup of espresso coffee
  • 1 teaspoon of brandy
  • 2 teaspoons aniseed  
  • 1 teaspoon rum 
  • 1 teaspoon sugar 
  • 1 lemon peel

Procedure

  1. Place the three liqueurs and a lemon peel in a small glass, avoiding the white part, which is more bitter.
  2. Add the sugar, which you should dissolve completely with the heat of the steam wand. 
  3. Prepare the espresso with the bar machine and drop it into the small glass with the liquors, taking care to hold it at an angle so that the foam and coffee remain distinct. In this way, the three layers with the three colors will be visible. Serve hot.

Homemade Moretta di Fano recipe

It is not necessary to go to the bar to drink this tasty and energizing drink. With a few small tricks, it will be possible to reproduce Moretta at home by making coffee with a mocha.

Ingredients for two people

  • 2 cups of espresso coffee
  • 2 teaspoons of sambuca (alternatively aniseed)
  • 4 teaspoons rum 
  • 1 teaspoon brandy 
  • one lemon peel
  • 2 teaspoons sugar 

Preparation

  1. Prepare the coffee with a moka pot. Separately, in a small saucepan, mix rum, sambuca, and brandy. Add sugar and heat without bringing it to a boil, and as soon as you catch a glimpse of bubbles, turn off the stove. 
  2. Cut a lemon peel and lay it at the bottom of the shot glass. 
  3. Pour the alcohol mixture into the shot glasses and add the boiling coffee, being careful to tilt the shot glass a little so that the three layers are visible. Drink hot.