Italian coffee – How to embrace Italian coffee culture authentically
As a rich part of their history, Italians represent the height of coffee culture. Drunk morning, noon and night, the day revolves around when you will get your next caffeine fix, and to some, it is just as important as meal times. Wherever you visit in Italy will typically serve a heavily roasted coffee bean of exceptional quality and these come in just a few variations. But with great coffee, comes great responsibility, as the culture is steeped with mysterious rules that are unbeknownst to many when visiting the Italy for the first time. To avoid the risk of being labelled a tourist, read on and discover the delightful simplicity of buon caffé…
Cappuccino’s and Latte’s are strictly for the mornings. Italians wouldn’t even dream of ordering these after a full meal, even though they tend to be the most popular all-day orders in the UK and America. After lunch, stick to espresso’s, but pair your milky drink with a delicious pastry breakfast in the morning. If you really feel the need to add a splash of milk during the daytime, order a caffé macchiato, which adds just a dollop of foamy milk to an espresso.
Another concept that doesn’t exist in Italy is takeout coffee, something that was popularized in America. Most café’s rarely stock takeaway cups, instead serving all their drinks in porcelain. Coffee is often drunk before the customer has even paid, so even if you’re in a hurry, there is no need to take your drink outside.
Any barista in Italy will take your order of ‘Coffee’ or caffé to simply mean an espresso. Skinny, syruped and Frappuccino orders will be an instant tourist giveaway and you’ll be met with a look of confusion if you dare to order a pumpkin spice latte at a traditional Italian caffé. Much like with Italian cooking, simplicity and few ingredients are key. A standard espresso is a single shot, and if you feel like you need an extra boost throughout the day, just make an extra visit.
Literally translated in Italian, latte means milk, so if you order one, don’t be surprised when the barista hands you a glass of milk. A caffé latte or latte macchiato is more likely to be what you’re after.
Italian café’s have two prices, one for table service and one for the bar, al banco. Drinking your coffee sat down will cost you more, and as Italians mostly drink Espresso, there is no real need to take a long break. Instead, it is referred to as una pausa, (a pause,) where customers enjoy a brief chat with their coffee standing up at the bar, then when they have finished, head on their way.
Venti, Grande and Tall coffee is another foreign idea that isn’t understood by Italians. There is only one size, a standard cappuccino will be served in an 180ml porcelain cup no questions asked. As the Italians do, if you feel like its not enough, just pay your barista another visit!
All Carluccio’s coffee is roasted exclusively for us in Italy, and we feel tradition and culture are at the heart of what we do. Visit our deli to purchase your pick of two different blends, or come and enjoy a coffee freshly made by one of our baristas at one of our restaurant branches. And don’t worry, we won’t make you drink it al banco this time!