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A cafe in Italy was hit with a (€1,000) £850 fine after a customer complained when they were charged (€2) £1.70 for an espresso, having gone to the police over the matter.
Francesco Sanapo, the owner of Ditta Artigianale in Florence, said he felt ‘heartbroken’ over the fine, which he said related to an ‘outdated law’.
Sanapo said a customer had complained that the price was not displayed on a menu behind the counter, despite the fact such information was displayed on a digital menu, available via a QR code.
He also explained that the espresso was more expensive than other coffees – with single-shot espressos normally costing around €1 in Italy - because it was made from beans sourced from a specific plantation in Mexico.
Because of a rule that requires the country’s cafes to display prices behind the counter or on a menu, police slapped the business with a hefty fine, despite Sanapo’s argument that a digitised version was available for customers.
In a Facebook video, Sanapo said: “They fined me because somebody got offended for paying €2 for a decaffeinated coffee. Can you believe it?”
He continued: “Even today, someone can get so irate that they get the police involved, who decided we were in the wrong due to an outdated law," he protested, brandishing the notice of his fine from the police.
“This law must be changed because otherwise 99.9 per cent of bars and restaurants would easily fall foul of it.”
Sanapo admitted he felt angry that the customer was ‘offended’ for paying for a ‘decaffeinated coffee from a small plantation at 1600 metres in the Chiapas region, a decaf made exclusively with a water filtration process’.
He said: “He felt offended because he paid two euros, because the barista weighed the coffee, ground it, prepared it with the best machines on the market.
“It's difficult to make people understand that there are coffees that can cost over one euro. Coffees that are produced by people that work hard to create a coffee that will become a unique experience. It's not just about producers, but there are also baristas who study to extract the best coffee possible, yet no, you get offended because you pay over one euro for it.
"That's why the Italian coffee industry is declining, it is dying.”
Saying he felt ‘heartbroken’ over the fine, Sanapo said he concluded: “Today, I believe, no bars, coffee shop, restaurant in Italy is able to display all their prices behind their counter. Of course, we have a QR code, there you can display anything you want. But this is not enough for them.
“It's not possible to have a law from the 50s that tells us we must display all prices.
“The espresso and the Italian coffee industry, must revive from quality. And quality has to be paid for.”
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