Italian Coffee Culture-A Guide To Your Espresso
Types of Espresso Drinks
If you go to Italy and make some Italian friends, they will definitely invite you to have a cup of coffee. Of course it will be espresso. Not that they don't have American coffee in Italy but why don't you venture and choose one of the many kinds of espresso they have to offer.
Drinking coffee in Italy is almost like a ritual. A ritual that accompanies Italians throughout their day. Before they go to work, they have an espresso, on their way to work they might stop for a second espresso. They have another during their breaks and again in the evening. And so it goes.
What is Espresso
Making coffee is an art in itself and ordering "un caffe" in Italy usually means an espresso. This means to "press," and refers to the pressure applied to the hot water forced through the ground beans, creating this strong, flavorful mixture.
There are several types of espresso:
Lungo - More water (about double) is filtered through the grounds giving a weaker taste, but still stronger than normal coffee.
Ristretto - Less water is used, it gives stronger taste.
Doppio - That would be a double espresso, do not drink this unless you are planning to be up all night.
Corretto - With a dash of liquor.
Con panna - With cream on top
Macchiato - With a drop of milk.
Italians usually have several espresso coffees a day, usually after each meal. Espresso is prepared and drunk immediately. A good bartender must know not only how to prepare the perfect espresso but to serve it in the most appropriate cup. Unlike people in the US, Italians drink coffee from porcelain cups, but sometimes a glass one is served. The cup is almost as important as the coffee itself.
The tall, paper-cup Starbucks sized coffees do not exist in Italy. While visiting Italy, you can enter any modest looking coffee shop and still get a high quality coffee drink. Coffee is a culture in Italy, it's always good.
While visiting Italy I enjoyed drinking espresso from a glass - caffe al vetro. The glass did yield a special taste to the coffee.
It's best to go to a coffee bar early in the morning and watch the bartender being super busy preparing different cups of espresso. The requests for different types of espresso were so many and he was preparing each cup with so much care, yet super fast. It was definitely an art.
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