Italian coffee

Coffee is an art in Italy with as many different varieties as one can imagine, possibly more. Cappucino is the standard morning drink and pregnant ladies like me often opt for something with less punch: a latte macchiato. This is a glass of steamed milk “stained” with coffee, sometimes topped with a sprinkle of chocolate. (Not to be confused with a cafe macchiato which is the opposite: a shot of coffee with only the smallest hint of milk.)

A regular cafe latte is also a lovely morning treat. It’s a bigger glass with more milk and more coffee, more like a latte that one would order at Starbucks but don’t expect to get a “venti” anything in Italy. While the name is Italian (“twenty”, as in 20 ounces), giant cups of coffee are not. Neither is a large takeout container or a couch nestled in the coffee shop. Almost all coffee is consumed at the bar, standing. It’s a quick part of the day, usually repeated several times. It’s also considerably cheaper than a Starbucks run; usually about one euro.

If it’s not morning, it’s not common to order anything with milk. After 10 am it’s customary to simply get a cafe, a shot of espresso. If your stomach can’t take that kind of thing, which mine certainly can’t pregnant or not, you can plead your straniero status (“foreigner”) and just order a cafe latte. Leave a little tip to make up for it; besides, tipping is also more of an American custom than Italian, but certainly appreciated everywhere.



Filed under About Italy, Food & Restaurants, Italian culture

5 responses to “Italian coffee

  1. Oh, speaking of Starbucks, I was reading online that there will be a Starbucks scheduled to be constructed in Rome in 2011. There’s one already in Milano.

    Quite shocking news actually.

  2. If I remember correctly, it’s mostly the same in France, but lattes are called “cafe cremes.” I think I also remember people standing up to drink their espressos in Italy, but it also seems like there are cafes with outdoor patios and the like where people can sit and talk, no? In either case, everything is just too darn big in the U.S.!

  3. charityc

    Yes I heard this! Gap is apparently on the way as well…

  4. charityc

    Yes, you’re exactly right Bess (and thanks for your comment!) People do sit at tables inside and outside, weather permitting. And like it is in France, the price for your coffee depends on where you consume it. Standing at the bar is cheapest, sitting inside costs a little more and sitting outdoors is the most expensive of all, sometimes several times as expensive. It’s sometimes possible to get a drink to go, porte via, and that’s usually the same price as standing at the bar–but the cup is still dainty. šŸ˜‰

  5. Thanks! I’m working on a just-for-fun novel about a girl who travels to Italy, and I wanted to make sure it was realistic that she be sitting down. Now I can add that she realizes she’s charged more for doing so! (Now I just have to schedule my trip out for “research” purposes!)

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