At risk of offending the French, with whom I have lived for over 16 years, and Tory, who just wrote a post on coffee in France, there is just no comparison between coffee in France and coffee in Italy. If you ask a French national who has been away from France for an extended period of time what they miss the most from home they will undoubtably say bread, cheese & wine. An Italian asked the same question will most certainly say they miss coffee and pasta. For two countries so close together geographically, they are truly worlds apart in their customs and lifestyle.
Possible reasons why the coffee in Italy is irrefutably better than in France and pretty much everywhere else on the planet, include but are not limited to;
~the actual water in Italy
~the coffee machine itself – there are some pretty amazing espresso machines in Italy, the proper maintenance of the machine – not to be taken lightly or ignored
~ the superior quality and freshness of the coffee in Italy (somehow the Italian coffee in France is just not the same).
~Or maybe simply physically being in Italy changes everything?
It is hard to remain immune to the welcoming cafés and the friendly waiters with their undeniably adorable accents. Hanging out, drinking coffee and watching the comings and goings of the neighborhood – everyone stops in for a café in their local joint at some point in the day, – is a splendid way to immerse oneself in Italian culture and pass the time. The smell of the coffee, the sound of foam being whipped to perfection, the noise of the espresso pressed up into the machine and popped into the proper notch and then the water running through it…. all help make the coffee irresistible.
And the options of coffee to order are so much more varied and exotic then in most other places (but remember, no cappucino in the afternoon)!
Here is a fairly detailed list of types of coffee in Italy:
Caffè – this is the quintessential espresso. Usually served in a white porcelain cup with a demitasse spoon, sugar and sometimes a chocolate or cookie.
Cappuccino – This is probably the most well known coffee drink after the espresso. A large cup with a shot of espresso, hot milk, and hopefully lots of frothy foam
Photo Erica Berman
Macchiato – essentially a mini-cappucino minus the thick foam; a shot of espresso in a demitasse, hot milk and often a bit of foam as well, but not always. It is ok to drink a macchiato in the afternoon!
Marocchino – this is a macchiato/mini cappucino with lots of cocoa sprinkled on top, and often Inside the cup as well. It is ok to drink a marocchino in the afternoon !
Caffé Latte – This is a café au lait. A shot of espresso with lots of hot milk, but no foam.
« In Italy, caffe latte is almost always prepared at home, for breakfast only. The coffee is brewed with a stovetop Moka and poured into a cup containing heated milk. (The Moka does not produce true espresso, but rather a double-strength coffee. Also, unlike the international latte drink, the milk in the Italian original is not foamed.)
Outside Italy, a latte is typically prepared with approximately one third espresso and two-thirds steamed milk, with a layer of foamed milk approximately 5 mm (¼ inch) thick on the top. The drink is similar to a cappuccino, the difference being that a cappuccino consists of 1/3 espresso, 1/3 steamed milk and 1/3 foam. A variant on the latte is the flat white, which is served in a smaller ceramic cup with the creamy steamed milk poured over a single-shot of espresso, holding back the lighter froth at the top. »
Caffé con Panna – this is essentially a single shot of espresso topped with whipped cream (often thick and homemade).
Caffé Ristretto – ‘restricted’ This is very small and very strong. Supposed to make a thicker and more flavorful espresso.
Doppio – a double shot of espresso.
Corretto – This is a shot of espresso with a shot of liquor added; usually grappa, but also amaretto , brandy or sambuca.
Caffè freddo –
This is chilled coffee and can be served with milk, chocolate and crushed ice. Usually sugar is added and it is very sweet.
Some helpful & useful links to all sorts of info on espresso and espresso related drinks :