The Italians know good coffee. The proof is in the cup as this cultured nation has created some of the world’s most famous coffee brands including Lavazza and Illy. Much like an Italian’s unique habits when it comes to drinking aperitifs and creating world famous dishes, Italiano coffee aficionados like to do things their own way when it comes to getting their fix.
The author enjoying a macchiatone — Photo courtesy of Hannah Grace Lodge
You won't get anywhere asking for a triple shot soy vanilla latte here; Italy is a country famous for its own complicated coffee politics and these caffeine lovers have had their etiquette set in stone for years. If you want to channel your inner Italian, here’s how it’s done.
Firstly, there will be no lazy mornings spent hiding in a coffee shop. If you want that caffeine hit, then do as the locals and belly up to the bar. Italian coffee shops charge a fee as soon as you sit down at a table; consequently a coffee bar at 8 am is as buzzing as a cocktail bar post 5 pm and the baristas are as in demand as bartenders. In Venice, you can’t walk along a canal without someone serving coffee from a hole in the wall or a street stand - it’s a sip-and-go situation. Think of coffee as fuel, and it all makes more sense. Pull in, fill up, pull out.
Cappuccinos and caffe lattes are a morning thing and these milky delights are served up alongside a croissant to kick-start the day ahead. Ask for a latte and all you'll get is a blank expression followed by a glass of milk; it’s always a caffe latte or a cappuccino con latte freddo. Fancy a cappuccino after midday? This is unheard of in Italy, so your afternoon ‘pick-me-up’ is sure to be an espresso, which most Italians sip at a coffee bar at around 3 pm.
It’s not all bad news for those of you who like your coffee a little milky. The classic Italian macchiato has had a facelift in recent years and the once-single espresso topped with milk has been transformed into a luxurious double shot, frothy topped tipple, not too dissimilar to a cappuccino. If you want to do it as the Italians do (and who wouldn’t?), then the macchiatone is the thing to sip at any time of day. Well, when in Rome. . .