How To Order Your Espresso In Italy
Historical Caffè Florian in Piazza San Marco, Venice
How To Order Espresso In Italy: Start With The Best. The First.
If you want to learn how to order espresso in Italy, the best place to start is at the beginning: Caffè Florian on Piazza San Marco, Venice. The baristas at the Florian, as it is more commonly known, have been in the espresso business since 1720, making it the oldest running coffee shop in the world.
The Italian cafe market is the biggest in the world,
with over $10 billion of retail sales in 2014.
Make Your Espresso At Home Or Drink It At The Bar
Given the history and symbolism that is attached to everything in Italy , it shouldn’t surprise you to learn that Italians do coffee differently than most other countries.
For example, when you walk into any coffee bar in Italy you are not really supposed to sit down at a table and wait for someone to take your order; if you want to assimilate and do like the locals do, walk up to the bar to pay for your coffee and then take your receipt to the barista to order.
The Suspended Coffee: A Neapolitan tradition that boomed during World War II. A simple act of ‘paying it forward’ that involves paying for your caffè +1 and leaving the extra receipt with the bartender/barista for someone who can’t afford it that day.
Think of it as doing espresso shots while standing at the bar. You can always go back for a second or third shot throughout the day. That’s normal.
The word ‘espresso’ implies ‘express’ or that it needs to be made ‘expressly’ for you so that you can drink it while the ‘crema’ is still on top. (The crema is the white, creamy emulsion of the coffee’s oils, and acts as a lid covering the espresso, keeping all the aromas in. But it dissipates quickly.)
Different Types of Espresso Drinks
Al Banco: Hot tip! Italian menus often have two prices – one for the table (al tavolo) and one for the bar (al banco) – the cheaper of the two. (Most Italians drink their espresso at the bar.)
Caffè Corretto: Adding a drop (or 4) of grappa, sambucca or rum to your espresso. The ‘correct’ way to have espresso!
Cappuccino: In Italy, a cappuccino is the equivalent of breakfast because of its milk content. Don’t even think of having a milky coffee on a full stomach; no cappuccino after 11:00 a.m. (You’ll get the stink-eye if someone sees you with a cappuccino at noon. Even if you tell them it’s lunch.)
Caffè latte: Espresso served in a glass with hot (but not foamy) milk. Similar to a latte in America, make sure to specify caffè latte in your Italian order. Otherwise, you are likely to end up with a glass of milk and milk alone.
Caffè Lungo: If you like your coffee long and strong, try ordering a ‘caffè lungo.’ Not to be confused with a ‘caffè Americano’, a ‘caffè lungo’ is hot water with espresso added to it. As well as being less diluted than a ‘caffè Americano’ it’s also far more authentic.
Caffè Americano: An espresso topped up with hot water, tourist.
Caffè Macchiato: An espresso topped with a dollop of frothy milk. It’s not quite what you’re used to, but then you’re in Italy. This is the GOOD stuff.
Espresso: Order a ‘caffè’ and you’ll get a cup of espresso. It only comes in the one size. Doll size. STRONG size. It will do the job.
Latte: If you order this you will get a cup of milk in Italy. Try asking for a ‘latte macchiato.’ That should get you a cup of hot milk with added coffee. Unless you want a cup of milk…?
A WORD OF CAUTION: Sugar. You might have to put your big girl or big boy pants on while you’re in Italy and do without all that sugar in your espresso. They have sugar… it’s just not cool to dump it in your cup like you haven’t eaten in months. Before you go, start tapering off the stuff. (It’s like heroin, I know.)
Have you ordered espresso in Italy? What was it like? What do you think about Starbucks making their move to Milan? Share your thoughts… we’d love to hear from you.
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