Why do you want to go to Italia? For delicious food, for incredibly beautiful seas and mountains, for stunning history and culture, and extraordinary wines. Yes, these are all good reasons, but you are missing one very important component to Italian culture: coffee!
IS NOT JUST A BLACK BEVERAGE
For every single Italian, coffee is not only a hot drink. Every morning begins with a cup (ceramic or glass) of strong espresso. The first waking moment of coffee is sacred. “Let’s get a coffee!” is one of the most recurrent phrases you will hear. One of the most influential Italian artists, the Neapolitan theatre author, actor and director, Eduardo De Filippo once said, “Quando io morirò, tu portami il caffè, e vedrai che resuscito come Lazzaro,” which translate to: When I will be die, bring me some coffee and you will see that I will rise again like Lazarus.
HOW AND WHERE
“Il bar” is the quintessential meeting point. Note that the typical Italian bar is an institution and is very different from the American concept. They will serve you coffee, of course, but also alcohol, soft drinks, sweets, panini and snacks. Usually, the “pausa caffè,” the coffee break, is short and sweet. You can drink your coffee standing at the counter. In any case the espresso should be consumed very hot and very quickly; only two or three sips!
Here our “guida del caffè,” a coffee-pedia for pros! First of all, you should know the difference between the basics: espresso, macchiato, cappuccino, corretto, caffè freddo, caffè lungo.
ESPRESSO - Italians simply say “caffè.” Your barista will serve one dense black shot. Please do not ask for a double espresso. Just order “un altro caffè,” a second round.
MACCHIATO – Means “dirty.” This is simply a shot of espresso with a splash of milk foam.
CAPPUCCINO – Also popular here in the US, it is the perfect alchemy of espresso, milk foam and steamed milk. It is a breakfast favorite, but it is not intended as an alternative to espresso. Be aware: it is extremely unpopular to order a cappuccino after 1pm. Never – and again, never ever – have a cappuccino after lunch or dinner. In Italy it is against the law. Seriously, nobody will arrest you, but you will be heavily censured!
CORRETTO - A classic! A “corretto” is a boozy adult espresso. You can add liquors like sambuca, anise or grappa. Try it - you will love this vibrant caffeinated variation.
CAFFÈ FREDDO - If you order a cold coffee, in Italy you will get something really delicious: an espresso shaken with ice and sugar. Just one role: Do not order a caffè freddo during the fall or winter season!
AMERICANO - Don’t be fooled, your barista won’t serve you your classic black coffee. For the international braves, this is an espresso diluted with hot water. If you only add a splash of hot water, you will have a “caffè lungo.”