Italy is one of the most popular travel destinations in the world. Every year millions of tourist’s flock to the Italian Peninsula from all over the world. Roughly 2 million of those yearly visitors are American. It is a land with beautiful rolling countryside, unique and historic cities filled with famous art, architecture, and ancient ruins, not to mention the gourmet food tradition. Every tourist dream.
Coffee is nearly a religion in Italy. Not surprisingly an almost unrivaled coffee culture has been ingrained on Italians. American coffee culture is much different, unprepared travelers are often surprised upon their first visit to a Cafe.
Don’t want to look like a tourist while visiting?
How to Order
Most Italian Bars require a customer to first visit a cashier what they are ordering and pay for it. A receipt is given by the cashier and then the customer would move down to a barista, tell them what you ordered and present the receipt in exchange for your beverage.
What to Expect on the Menu
Un caffè – Expect a 1.5-2 ounce serving of espresso. Although it may translate to “coffee” this is Italy’s standard way of enjoying the beverage. A small glass of water will often accompany the order to clean the palate post espresso.
Caffè lungo– An espresso shot run a few seconds longer to dilute some of the espresso.
Caffè doppio– A double shot of espresso. However, this is not something generally ordered by locals.
Caffè macchiato- A shot of espresso with a dollop of foamed milk. The same drink that is popular in American cafes. Translates to “dirty coffee” meaning espresso with a drop of milk.
Caffè corretto- An espresso shot topped off with alcohol- usually Grappa or Sambuca.
Latte macchiato- Lots of foamed milk and just a spot of coffee. Probably the closest thing found to what we call a latte in the US, which has a French origin. “Latte” in Italian means warm milk don’t be surprised if that is exactly what you are prepared.
Cappuccino- Cappuccino is a shot of espresso topped off with foamed milk. Also, the same drink served in American cafes. This is only consumed by Italians prior to 11 AM, and absolutely never consumed after an evening meal.
Caffè americano- A shot of Espresso water down with hot water. The closest thing to an American Coffee that you will find in authentic cafes. The Drip Coffee that is by far the most popular method of brewing in the US isn’t found outside of heavy tourist areas.
It is called an Espresso Bar for a Reason
American Coffee Shops resemble their French counterparts much more closely than those found in Italy. Italians tend to consume their beverage quickly at the “Bar” and move on with their day. Lounging around with friends or reading a book while enjoying a large beverage would be unheard of there.
Care to share your Italian Coffee Culture experience? Please do so in the comments section below!