Italians like coffee so much, but sooo much, hm soooo much … that probably the inhabitants of the Bel Paese feel an uncommon love for the juice of the most roasted bean in the world. For the Italians, coffee is not only “coffee”: in the peninsula, they are able to do everything with this natural energy drink, just think that in Calabria the coffee soda has been famous for years now.
On this theme, a universe of habits often unknown to tourists opens up. Do you remember that video that went viral on YouTube that compared the customs of Italians with those of European citizens? Well, in the part dedicated to coffee, you can see a little scene where the icon representing the European citizen enters the bar and orders a simple coffee. On the change of scene, the icons of the Italians “assault” the bar counter asking for an espresso, a cappuccino, a latte macchiato, a Moroccan and so on.
Why so much variety? Because Italians love good taste, they love to receive – perhaps even illusory – the energy boost of coffee, because without an espresso in the morning, a day cannot begin with dignity. To all non-Italian readers we have to say that it is a cultural fact: if you have an Italian friend, try asking him or her what are the most lucid memories he or she has as a child, and he or she will almost certainly answer: “the gurgling of the coffee pot and the smell of coffee invading the house in the morning”, because at home, at the right age, you are brought up at coffee by your mother.
So let’s explore this variety, let’s try to get into it and get to know this Babel of drinks that never miss in the morning at the counter of every Italian bar, together with a croissant.
Ordering an espresso coffee means making the simplest, purist choice. For those who want to taste the true intensity of the blend is ideal. As well as for those who are in a hurry and want to have a lot of energy in one go. It is served in the classic cup and consumed either bitter (this is a purist’s choice) or sweetened.
Simply, an espresso with a dash of milk.
A macchiato with whipped milk.
A delicious espresso without caffeine, ideal for those who want to enjoy coffee without having its invigorating effects.
This is all about time. Espresso is very concentrated: the coffee machine extracts the necessary liquid in a short time to give typical flavour and intensity. When you let it drip more, the coffee becomes long with the result of having a slightly milder taste and intensity.
Not to be confused with the lungo, it’s two cups of espresso in one. Suitable for those who have really been partying at night and need to wake up.
Contrary to the lungo, the ristretto is a coffee with little dripping, flavor and strong effect.
- Caffè con panna
This is an espresso served with a little whipped cream.
- Caffè del nonno (Grandfather’s coffee)
Il caffè del nonno, or coffee cream, is very popular in bars in Naples. It is often consumed in summer and for its creaminess, it becomes almost like a dessert.
- Granita di caffè
In summer many bars serve cold coffee or even granita coffee, ideal for those who do not give up the typical flavour of espresso but served at low temperature.
- Caffè Shakerato
A great summer alternative to granita di caffè.
Coffee with steamed milk (and for those who also want it, a sprinkle of cocoa). Italians say that croissant and cappuccino is a match made in heaven.
There would be many more variations, but these are the main ones, the ones you need to know and above all try. We could stay here and talk about the long preparation of traditional homemade coffee in Naples, the types of coffee pots, or the competition between the brands that produce the machines for bars all over the world, but it would really take a book to deal with everything.
But let’s close with some curiosities: today in Italy there are almost 150,000 bars that serve an average of 175 cups of coffee every day. But was the Italian Bar or the Central European Café born first? And here comes the surprise: the trend of Café as a meeting point was born in Vienna, in 1684, following the vicissitudes between the Austro-Hungarian Empire and the Ottoman Empire. So, dear Italians, get over it. Not everything that is tasty or trendy can be born in Italy!