A CAFE customer was so steamed up over the cost of his £1.70 coffee he called the police – and they fined the owner £850.
Coffee expert Francesco Sanapo said he was “heartbroken” at the penalty and complained he was tripped up by “outdated” laws.
Cops were called to his award-winning Ditta Artigianale bar in the centre of Florence, Italy, on Saturday.
The customer was grumpy at being charged €2 for a decaffeinated espresso, reports Firenze Today.
Most cafes and bars in Italy charge around €1 or less if you stand at the bar.
Francesco insisted the high price was for sourcing the beans from a plantation in Mexico and the complicated extraction process.
But he was left with a bitter aftertaste when officers hit him with a hefty fine of €1,000.
It was not for the cost of the espresso, but because of a law requiring cafes to display prices behind the bar or in a physical menu.
Ditta Artigianale does display some prices, but others including the decaf are only available online or via a QR code.
Francesco, a three-times Italian barista champion and world championship finalist, pleaded for help in a furious Facebook video.
He frothed: “They fined me because somebody got offended for paying €2 for a decaffeinated coffee.
“This can’t go through, it can’t happen. Help me!
“Even today, someone can get so annoyed that they mobilise the police, who find us to be in the wrong due to an outdated law.
“This law must be changed because otherwise 99.9 per cent of bars and restaurants would easily fall foul of it.”
In a follow-up video he said he would pay the fine, but railed at Italians who expect cheap coffee despite rising supply and labour costs.
“Think about it: with one euro you cannot pay a sustainable wage to those who produce coffee, you can’t pay for the professionalism of those who are trained to a high level in hospitality,” he told Repubblica.
“With one euro we generate poverty throughout the supply chain, we create illegal jobs or workers who are underpaid even when all goes well.
“A one euro cup of coffee means using poor quality products.”
Francesco opened his bar in 2013 and said it was “revolutionary” for charging €1.50 at the time.
“There was negative and positive reaction, but until now I had never been fined,” he said.
“Nobody should be scandalised about paying €2 for an espresso any more.”
Supporters rallied to his defence.
One regular said of the man who called cops: “If this customer went to London he’d get the FBI involved.”
Alessandro Vittorio Sorani, president of the Florence small business association, said: “This is something that deeply embitters me.
“A great deal of work goes into producing a quality product. Quality pays off and benefits everyone.”
Italy is not the only country with similar laws.
In England and Wales, the Price Marking Order 2004 requires cafes and restaurants to display prices behind the counter or on a menu, including all taxes.
Failing to comply could count as unfair trading, a criminal offence with a potential fine up to £5,000.
Francesco’s €2 espressos are a bargain compared with some rip-off tourist traps in Italy.
In 2018 we told how a holidaymaker was charged £38 for two coffees in St Mark’s Square, Venice.
And last week, a British mum and her teenage daughter were charged £510 for two drinks and snacks in Mykonos, Greece.
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