If there is one thing us Italians are known for – apart from the amount of pasta and pizza we eat – is without a doubt the amount of coffee we drink!
And we don’t even grow coffee in our country! Imagine if we actually did …
Some would even stretch as far as thinking, that instead of blood, we have coffee running through our veins. That’s how much we love coffee – and how much we drink it!
And yet … coffee does not grow on Italian grounds. The coffee plant finds its perfect environment in an equatorial climate and despite the lovely weather we have in Italy, it is not enough for the little coffee beans to grow.
Our Bel Paese, though, has made coffee an integral part of its culture and thanks to very creative Italian men of the past – such as Luigi Bezzera, Achille Gaggia and Giò Ponti – we have made it very much our own, so much so the world looks to us for inspiration on how to truly savour coffee!
The first thing to clarify about coffee is the size of the cup.
If you ask for a coffee in Italy, there is only one cup size! And that is the espresso cup – big enough for a shot of coffee, to be drunk quickly in one go, hence the word ‘espresso’ which translates as ‘express, quick’. Any other cup size does not carry the official Italian seal of approval as far as coffee in its true state is concerned!
Yet, a coffee is never just “a coffee”. If you have ever found yourself in a bar (the italian coffee shop) in Italy, you might have noticed that Italians are rather fussy about how they take their coffee – no kidding! It may come only in one cup size but it does come in many shapes and forms nonetheless!
Here a little list of the type of coffees you can get in Italy. Frappuccinos or mixtures of coffee, mint and cookies simply do not exist. Heresy!
– Caffè ( otherwise know as espresso), the standard single shot.
– Caffè macchiato (espresso macchiato), or just macchiato, is an espresso with a bit of foam in it. Like a baby cappuccino.
– Americano, this version of the original espresso with added hot water is well known outside Italy but not as popular among Italians, who think it is just ‘acqua sporca’ (dirty water).
– Cappuccino – this one you know – is served in a larger cup, and it is allowed… as it is not just coffee! 1 shot of espresso (two if you need a really big fix of caffeine) with a dash of milk and topped with thick milk foam. Many like a litte of cocoa powder on top as well.
– Marocchino (Italian for Moroccan), is a variation of the normal espresso, served in a little glass cup, first dusted with cocoa powder, then topped with milk froth and espresso, and a second dusting of cocoa is added at the end.
– Latte ( known as Caffèlatte in Italy) served in the large cup version is made with an espresso (1/3) topped with steamed milk (2/3) and a dash of foam on the top.
– Latte Macchiato, though might be similar to the one above, is in fact VERY different…. Firstly, it comes served in a glass and it is basically a glass of steamed milk with an espresso poured in from the top! The order is very important you know?!?
– Caffè Corretto, is a variation of an espresso “corrected” with a liquor of choice, the most popular are Sambuca, Grappa, and Brandy.
To make one of these coffees at home, you will need a few essential tools: first of all, a ‘caffettiera’, or moka coffee pot. La Bialetti, is THE way to make espresso at home. Invented by Alfondo Bialetti in 1933 is the most famous and loved one, to be found in possibly every single Italian household.
Others though, prefer La Napoletana,
a coffee pot slightly different in shape, that makes a coffee similar to the americano but with a stronger and fuller flavour as it is not ‘diluted’ as such! It also takes
longer to brew, so it is perfect for when you have more time to sit down and enjoy your coffee with friends at home.
The coffee break is truly a cultural and social moment for Italians. The atmosphere, the busy noises of cups chinking against each other, people coming and going, stopping for a chat with someone they know or exchanging a few words with the friendly baristas – who usually know what you are going to order before you even ask (if you are a regular customer).
If this sounds like the perfect enviroment for your coffee break, then you’ll love Antico Caffè in the centre of town, just a few steps down from Monument on Grey Street!
Join us at Antico Caffè for breakfast, a quick lunch, an Aperitivo after work or simply straight up coffee and cake any time!
Oh and of course come visit us soon!