Ci prendiamo un caffe’ (shall we grab a coffee?)
Ask any Italian if they like or drink coffee, and you will be presented with a look as if you have asked the most outrageous question on earth.
The Italian coffee culture in Italy is an institution, a way of life, in every Italian kitchen you will find moka pots sitting by the gas fire ready to be used, every generation have mastered this little piece of equipment which guarantees your coffee fix anytime!!
However the Italians prefer to have their coffee at their local bar (coffee shop) whenever they can, to socialise, meet friends and to have a stronger coffee.
This black liquid has us Italians hooked and so hooked we have established rules and rituals in the culture of coffee. The first thing that hits you when you enter a local bar during la colazione (the breakfast) rush hour is the intense smell of coffee and fresh baked pastries followed by the loud sound of clanking cups, steamers from the coffee machine, the waving of sugar bags and people standing al banco (the bar) chatting in a high rate manner with over emphasised hand gestures (it could be perceived for most foreigners as if they are arguing but in reality Italians are passionate in their explanations).
La colazione (breakfast) starts with a cappuccino (note: there is no such thing as a small medium or large sizes of cups nor there is one shot skinny decaf to go!) paired with a warm freshly baked cornetto (croissant) filled with cream patisserie or apricot jam, this is the ONLY time in the day you will see an Italian drink a cappuccino but it must be ordered before 11!! After that time the Italians will presume you are a tourist.
The coffee is enjoyed standing it is downed in one gulp (the cappuccino is never piping hot) and there is no reason to hang around, by standing at the bar you are guaranteed to be served quicker by “your barista” (this is the person which you will see the most in your day or even lifetime) will serve your coffee and arrange the tab to be paid at the end of the day, ci vediamo dopo (I will see you later) and believe me they will be back after a couple of hours.
Why not try our various Italian coffee blends here….
It can be daunting for any tourist to try and blend in with the locals and their coffee rituals and rules so here is a little guide to help you on your way:
Caffe’ latte: for the Brits it’s a “latte” if you ordered that in Italy you will get a glass of milk, latte literally means milk.
Caffe macchiato: an espresso shot with a dash of milk ,macchiato means stained
Caffe’ corretto: espresso shot with a liquor mainly grappa, used as after dinner drink
Caffe’ lungo: it is like an Americano, a shot of espresso and more water added.