This is a common phrase heard in Italy. Yes, these people are addicted, but not to alcohol. Seriously, you think that bars are only places for drunken debauchery? In this boot shaped country, “going to the Bar” has quite a different meaning. It is where one goes to take a coffee. Yes, American friends “take”. Now on the bar scene, things can be a bit complicated. When we first moved here, coming up on two years ago, I was practically laughed out of one for being a stupido. Well, just because I did not know how to order and my accent was probably terrible. Simply stated, you approach the cassa first and pay for your drink. Then take your ticket to the barista. The barista could have directed me the cassa, but I digress.
Ok, it sounds like Starbucks–but this is not! There is no Venti, skinny vanilla lattes triple whips or Pumpkin macchiato Grandi with 3 Splendas. Rather, coffee drinking is a simplistic and wonderful ritual. There are not takeaway cups or drive-thrus. You can make it quick at the counter or lengthen it out with a friend (Amico/Amica) at a tavolo (table). And the variety of coffees is abundant.
Caffè – In Italy the word “caffè’” naturally implies an espresso. There is no need to specify “espresso” when ordering. It become my crack and I have one in the morning before I leave the house and a few throughout the day. I never understood why I was so exhausted when I visited the US, as I was drinking the Starbucks. The reason, my need for the caffeine exceeded what Starbucks was dealing. I have since tried to downgrade my espresso consumption, but my God, it is so good. At the bar, it is served in a porcelain demitasse cup “tazzina” with its own saucer and little stirring spoon. There is no option of “take away”. Pronunciation tip: Cahf-FEH’
Caffè Hag is a decaffeinated version. You can order a “decafinato” as well; Hag is the name of the largest producer of Italian decaf coffee and that’s the way you’ll see it on many bar menu boards.
Caffè Macchiato – Basically an espresso with a drop of milk.
Cappuccino – Probably the most well-known and loved coffee drink. Espresso and steamed, frothy milk added so that there is a clean layer of milk foam in a larger cup, a tazza. I just stir it and never add sweetener. You can order it scremato for the skim milk version.
Marocchino – In some areas of Italy, also called an Espressino or Mocacchino. It is a shot of espresso served in a glass demitasse (for aesthetic reasons), with a sprinkling of cacao (added either before or after the milk, sometimes both!) and milk foam spooned on top.
Caffè freddo (kah-FE FRAYD-o) – Iced, or at least cold, coffee. Italians are not really fans of ice, fans or air conditioning, but that is another topic.
Caffè Shakerato (kah-FE shake-er-Ah-to ) – in its most simple form, a caffè shakerato is made by combining freshly made espresso, a bit of sugar, and lots of ice, shaking the whole deal vigorously until a froth forms when poured. Can have some chocolate syrup added. My friend Gaetane tried this over the summer, not a fan.
Caffè Corretto – An espresso with a drop of liquor. Not really an am drink, something one has in the evening. My husband had this one night when we stopped at a bar after dinner.
So, come take a coffee with me?
Until next time, Ciao!