Not really a coffee drinker? Taking a trip to Italy might change your mind. You simply must sample some authentic Italian coffees before you decide to stick to tea or other beverages.
North Americans have sayings about coffee like, “Coffee warms up the mornings of the world” or “Oh look, it’s coffee o’clock.” A popular Italian saying about coffee is, “La vita è quella cosa che inizia dopo aver bevuto il caffè,” which means, “Life is the one thing that starts after drinking coffee.” Especially if you’re on vacation in Italy!
You will find coffee bars (that’s right - they’re called bars, not cafes) everywhere in Italy, in every city or town. Italians love their coffee.
Italian coffee is unique - it is not at all like what you might be used to from Starbucks or your favourite coffee shop anywhere else in the world. If you want to drink coffee like Italians do during Italy day tours and excursions the best place is at a coffee bar. You can sit in a restaurant and sip your coffee at a table but you’ll typically pay much more for that experience.
When you order coffee at a coffee bar expect to receive a small serving. It is meant to be consumed rather quickly while you stand at the coffee bar. Most coffee bars expect patrons to order at the cash register and pay first, then take proof of payment over to the bar to get their coffee.
What to order? There are many different types of coffee available and it helps to know a little bit about Italian coffee lingo:
- Caffè – rather than a filtered coffee, in Italy asking for a caffe will get you an espresso (a small shot of concentrated coffee made using a pressurized brewing process)
- Cappuccino – this concoction of espresso, hot steamed milk, and hot milk foam is considered a breakfast beverage only
- Caffè macchiato – an espresso with a small shot of hot milk (a spot or “stain” in the espresso)
- Latte macchiato - hot milk with a spot of espresso; if you ask for just a Latte you will receive a cup of milk - either caldo (hot) or freddo (cold)
- Caffè americano - the closest you’ll get to the style of filtered drip coffee popular in North America is watered down espresso (often served as espresso in a cappuccino cup with hot water on the side to add as you wish)
- Caffè lungo - basically an espresso made taking more time so it has twice the water