Americans have the benefit of being able to enjoy a wide variety of cultures and customs, offering the chance for a variety of experiences. This includes Italian coffee, which is made worthwhile due to the techniques passed down through generations and the culture surrounding the coffee itself.
Italy has seen its coffee evolve for generations, culminating into an art form unparalleled in many ways. Whether you’re visiting Italy or are getting involved in local cultural centers, making yourself aware of Italian views and methods for coffee will help you order and enjoy. Read on to make yourself feel at home in any Italian café.
In This Guide...
Espresso Has Been Refined Over Many Generations – But How?
In America, if you hear the word “coffee,” chances are you’re used to drip coffee that’s brewed in a large pot. Meanwhile, in Italy, “coffee” is understood to be espresso, the quick shot of caffeine you may be familiar with. This is an important distinction you should know before ordering coffee in an Italian establishment.
In America, espresso shots are usually just added to coffee for an extra jolt of caffeine. In Italian tradition, however, if someone wants more caffeine, they’ll just go later in the day for more. Understanding this will help you take your time and enjoy your Italian coffee.
What makes this special is espresso’s long-lasting stake in Italian culture and history. As a result, its preparation has been perfected over time. Just like wine, the right ingredients and skills have been passed down through Italian heritage, making it ripe for those from the outside to enjoy.
Strong Range of Espresso Drinks
Based on the standard espresso shot, or caffé normal in Italian, there are different variations in mixes you may be familiar with in American coffee shops. What you may not know are their cultural significances in Italy, as shown below:
- Cappuccino: typically drank in the morning along with breakfast, this beverage consists of espresso, milk foam, and steamed milk
- Caffé Latte: like cappuccinos, this is enjoyed in the morning but has more steamed milk and less foam
- Caffé Macchiato: drank at any time of day, the macchiato is espresso mixed with a little frothy milk
- Caffé Americano: made to replicate American drip coffee for tourists, this is espresso mixed with water. While usually available, this should not be ordered if you’re interested in the true Italian experience
- Caffé Lungo: a middle ground between the Americano and normal Italian espresso, this drink is espresso with just a little water
- Caffé Corretto: perfect for drinking before dinner, this espresso drink is mixed with liquor, usually grappa or sambuca
- Caffé Freddo: best to counteract the heat, this has espresso shaken with ice and sugar for a refreshing beverage
Americans that enjoy coffee will likely recognize a few of these drinks, but they should also note that some are customarily consumed at different times of the day. Keeping these in mind will help immerse you in the world of Italian coffee.
The Inviting Setting of Italian Cafes
Along with the taste of their coffee, Italians have a special and enjoyable way of enjoying their coffee. When ordering and drinking your coffee, the atmosphere is very casual and social. For one, it’s very common for people to stay at the coffee bar and converse. This is good not only for you and your friend group but for those that wish to get to know the locals. This relaxed setting is why people finish drinking then pay, rather than the other way around.
As you take your time, know that your coffee drinking experience doesn’t have to be over for the day. It’s very common in Italy for people to grab coffee multiple times a day rather than just ordering a double or triple espresso shot. You don’t have to order from the same place either. Each of Italy’s 20 regions has regional differences that you’ll want to try out during your stay for a full experience.
Why Espresso is Awesome
Coffee has become so commonplace in American culture, no matter what your background is. Whether you follow the standard cup of joe from Dunkin’ Donuts™ or the trendier beverages from Starbucks™, chances are you’re more than familiar with it.
Just like any food or beverage, coffee has a deeper level of pleasure that has a place in culture and history. Going to Italy itself and visiting coffee shops there is great, but you will also want to keep an eye out for Italian coffee in your neighborhood. Regardless, keep in mind the various benefits and guidelines explored here, and you’re sure to enjoy yourself.