Caffé in Italia

Thanks in large part to Starbucks, this is a subject of confusion for many people who venture outside the realm of the green mermaid. Especially in Italy. Venti is not the largest size of drink and Frappuccino does not mean a blended cappuccino. Skinny? Low-fat? Extra hot? Soy? Good luck.


Let’s start with the basic caffé. This simply means a shot of espresso, the most common fare at a bar, which is not a bar in the sense we know it, but more similar to a coffee house or western cafe. An espresso is not had, but taken – a grammatical testament to the Italian way of living- standing at the counter with sugar to taste and a glass of water. It is a quick moment at any point in the day to pause and share a nice nip in the butt, elbow to elbow with fellow patrons. My favorite espresso memory is from the famous Caffé Gilli in Florence. A fabulous old Italian lady in enormous sunglasses sauntered into the café and up to the bar. Amidst a crowd of impeccably dressed businessmen in linen suits she took an espresso with her dog sitting at her feet. There are of course, quite a few variations on the caffè espresso…

Caffè Doppio: Two shots of espresso, served in a large cup, or tazza.
Caffè Lungo: An espresso with more water run through it. The consistency, strength and resulting caffeine effect is not as strong as an espresso

Caffè Americano: A shot of espresso with hot water added, served in a larger tazza.
Caffè Stretto or Ristretto: Made with less water than normal, this guy is more concentrated and strong.
Caffè Macchiato: Stained or marked with a drop of milk, sometimes foamed.
Caffè d’Orzo: Espresso made from barley. It can be ordered as a single, doppio (double) or macchiato like a normal espresso, a popular alternative.
Caffè Freddo: Espresso that has been left to cool or refrigerated, served either lukewarm or cold. Very nice on a hot summer day but usually very sweet.
Caffè coretto: An espresso served demitasse with a shot of liqueur of your choosing. I have to admit this is a little guilty pleasure of mine, obviously I’d rather flavor my caffè with liqueur than with sugary syrups, which are also not used very much here. I myself like frangelico or amaretto.
This is probably the most recognized, si? Served in a regular sized cup, it is an espresso with steamed milk and a heavenly layer of foam over the top. Cappuccin translates from Italian to ‘small cap’. Cute. 

So that’s a little intro, there are more types, such as latte marocchino and granita di caffè but sometimes the best way to have some very simple fun and try new things is to point and order something completely unknown off the menu. Except trippa or sciocchezze. That is tripe. In fact, I do not recommend searching for excitement in the meat section, stick to coffee and desserts.

Diandra BarsalouComment