I is for Italy – the art of drinking coffee in Italy.
The art of drinking coffee in Italy
Drinking coffee in Italy is an art form and if you do not want to shout out that you are an uncool tourist who has no appreciation of this total experience then it is worth ‘knowing’ what to do and what not to do. Italians wherever they live ‘know’ good coffee and how to make it. They also know when it is not good and you can tell from their reaction. I guess this is why Australia has such good coffee. Not only do a lot of Italians live here but they have bought this art form with them. I think most of us here own the Moka machine where you make the coffee on the stove top. In fairness, the Lebanese and the Turkish people have also contributed to our coffee scene.
It’s all in the beans
Speak to any Italian and it is all about the coffee beans and how they are ground. This is where the big difference between a good and a great coffee lies. If you want the ultimate coffee, the perfectly selected beans would be ground before each coffee to get the ultimate experience. The practicality of this however seems to be that this is not the case.
In Italy when we were there, we noticed that there was a lot more of this attention to these finer details and that we did get fantastic coffee.
What NOT to do
We were very confident when we ordered our first coffee in Florence early in the morning. I ordered a latte and that is what I got – hot milk. When I went back to the bar and said café latte they put some coffee in it amid much laughter. I was mortified. Our second mistake was the fact that I ordered a caffe latte at all and the 3rd was that we sat down.
Now I don’t know about you but I like to get things right when I am in another country. I don’t really want to look like a tourist, I want to seem to blend in. So we had to work at it. By the time we got to Rome I thought that I had it covered. Dressed in black and looking uber chic, I walked up to bar and ordered an espresso and a pastry which is the done thing. . I leant casually on the bar and didn’t really look at anyone and then, with great authority, started to drink my coffee and eat my pastry. Of course the icing sugar from the pastry went straight down my black jumper. Then I made a ridiculous error. I sauntered to the bathroom to clean this off. It turned to a white paste. Uber chic finished, humiliation in, as i strode out of the cafe whilst I am sure that the other customers snickered and thought ‘tourist’.
What to do:
NO MILK COFFEE AFTER 10.30AM
That means no cappuccino, caffé latte, latte macchiato or any milky form of coffee after 10.30am
Drinking a milk coffee after a meal is considered wrong as milk sits on a full stomach.
REALLY – You should only be having a black coffee in the morning and forget any pastry that has any semblance of icing sugar on it.
Espresso, Cappucino, and Caffe Latte
These are the sacred coffees of Italy. There are a few variations but not many. After 10.30am if you want to be like the locals then it is espresso for you all day.
LEAVE your skinny latte with a caramel shot at home or you will be very quickly picked out as a tourist with little appreciation for the fine art form that is coffee making and drinking. I am not sure what the Italian word for wanker is but I expect that is what you will hear. The Italians know there art of coffee making, as they are all born baristas, and it is decided that the temperature should be able to be drunk while you are on the run.
Caffe in Italy by default IS espresso. Your option should you choose to receive a big caffeine hit is is to order un caffè doppio (a double espresso). The Italians don’t however. They just steadily drink coffee all day. Again it says ‘tourist alert’.
A Shot in your coffee
I know it is very common for Australian Italians to put some brandy or amaretto in their coffee. This is also done in Italy if you know how to do ‘the nod’. That is all it takes. A little look at the brandy on the shelf and a nod and you will be all on the same page. I watched carefully and saw the nod many times.
Look like an Italian
Stand at the bar and drink your coffee like an Italian.
At the bar, you usually have to pay for your coffee before ordering it and then stand there and look cool and a little detached. Ordering a small pastry is totally acceptable with aforementioned rider about icing sugar.
Another alternative is to sit outside and bask in the sun while enjoying life in the piazza. Go for the back seats that face the square as this is what the locals do. Smoking while you lounge on your chair while wearing your designer sunglasses is de riguer if you want to seem chic. Make sure that your designer handbag is placed on the table also as this is a big statement on the cool factor. Face your already tanned face to the sun to appreciate this sunshine while sipping your … espresso.
Easy isn’t it? Whilst making the coffee is indeed an art form, drinking the blessed stuff in Italy is also an art for too.