Cappuccino… in Italy. I Love It.
One of my favorite things about living in Italy is drinking cappuccino. They do it right, which of course I didn’t know until I was in Italy.
What is doing it right? Well, aside from the most delicious coffee being used, the cappuccino is served in a small cup.
I finish it in only a handful of sips.
It actually takes a bit of time to get used to this smaller-size cappuccino, but it’s the perfect size and ratio of milk to coffee. Like I said, they just do it right! The days of a huge mug of coffee are over (or at least hidden in my apartment where the Italians don’t see me).
My daughter gets a decaf cappuccino, and together we sip and sit. I use this as a time to sit down and relax.
Cappuccino in Italy is not like going to Starbucks and getting a paper cup, usually with too much milk, with the drink to-go. To be honest, I’m not sure I could stomach that stuff anymore. And, I’m not only comparing to Starbucks. In a trip to Ireland, I almost couldn’t finish the cappuccino I ordered. Ack. It was more of a latte, with way too much milk to coffee, no froth, and no coffee taste. In my desperation though, I finished it.
Community, Coffee, and Longevity
What you do in coffee bars, in Italy, is also distinct from America. Usually, you drink your coffee at the bar – standing. Especially if it’s espresso. Going out for a coffee in the morning is usually a quick shot of espresso. Pop into the bar, get the teeny-tiny amount of coffee that is an espresso, drink it back. Take a minute to properly start the day. If I’m seen walking with my travel mug, it screams to everyone Americana. In fact, you can’t even get drinks “to go” here.
It can also be a very social experience… standing at the bar with other Italians, chatting about the neighborhood happenings. I’m not quite there, yet, because I don’t speak much Italian. One of these days though.
And, sometimes, people sit and chat, so animated with gestures, as only Italians can do. I love it. What you won’t see is people with their heads down in laptops. In Italy, people are at tables or standing at the bar with other people. It’s community. It’s longevity.
I’m in good hands because Italians know a thing or two about coffee. After all, Angelo Moriondo invented the espresso machine, receiving a patent for it in 1884, in Turin, Italy.
How Many Per Day?
I’ve heard mixed stories on the amount of coffee Italians drink on a daily basis.
Some people report that Italians will have coffee four or five times a day – in the form of espresso. But I’ve also read claims that if you drink more than 1 or 2 espresso a day, an Italian might gesture the sign of the cross and pray for you. Not really, but they might look at you with a concerned expression.
So, I don’t really know yet. I’m still figuring it out. For me, though, I enjoy a cup of regular coffee (or two) at home with my popular Aeropress, and then I usually find myself at a bar later in the day for a quality Italian espresso. Or two.
Different Prices for the Same Coffee Drink in the Same Bar?
Did you know that in the same bar you could see two different prices for your coffee? Especially in tourist areas. You can be charged a different price for sitting down at a table with your coffee versus standing and drinking it at the bar.
In Rovigo, Italy, where we’re currently living while getting dual Italian citizenship, the price is the same whether you stand at the bar or relax at a table. But, of course, it’s not a tourist city.
Cafe or Bar?
While I’m talking about coffee in Italy, there aren’t cafes here. Not really, anyway. They are bars. When I say I’m going to a cafe for a cappuccino, I really say I’m going to the bar. That’s another thing I’m still getting used to. :)
In said bar, the beautiful espresso / cappuccino machine warrants devotion and adoration. It’s like a piece of art. The same can be said for the drinks coming out of it. This machine will also be surrounded by liquor – it’s a bar after all.
In fact, in Italy drink you can drink espresso as caffè corretto (espresso “corrected” with a splash of liquor). I’ve yet to try one of those, but I aim to. And, one can also partake in a spritz or wine instead of coffee (that’s another post though).
Work in Progress
I’m a work in progress regarding how I enjoy coffee at the bar.
While my family enjoys cappuccini (plural for cappuccino) together, I also love going to a cafe/bar to write or read. I know, a bit antisocial. I’m sure it let’s everyone know I’m an Americana when I do that. I’d like to try living more like Italians though – being more social while I’m there.
Espresso is a Love of Mine, Too.
I know espresso is thought to be really strong by many, and maybe even too bitter for some. But, that also seems different in Italy. It could take some getting used to for some, but not much – I promise. Many Italians stir sugar into theirs, but I drink it senza zucchero (without sugar). The espresso is usually downright delicious all on its own, often tasting different from bar to bar. Sometimes my palate is hit with notes of chocolate and other times I detect nuttiness. All the time, however, bliss, when drinking it in Italy.
Water with your espresso? Yes, and there is a reason. Espresso is usually served with a small glass of water for cleansing the palette before enjoying your espresso.
I get so excited every time I go into a bar for a coffee.
Excitement for the buzz I’ll get from both the caffeine and the authentic experience.
One of my favorite things about going to a bar, on a regular basis, is getting to know the owners (and employees), and being a part of the local area. I like walking into a place and seeing familiar faces. Chatting with the baristas, even in my limited Italian to simply ask how they’re doing and vice versa is something I look forward to each time. There is such a true community feel when you do this, and it feels so damn good.
Italy, you have my heart.