Understanding Italian Coffee

Coffee wouldn’t be the same without Italy and Florence in particular. Not only was the powerful Medici family the first to import beans to the country in the early 18th century but two local brothers pioneered the modern coffee machine in the 1930s. Their patented horizontal boiler simplified coffee making and made the drink accessible to all.

Today coffee is a daily ritual for millions of Italians who crowd into bars for their morning fix and often end their meals with a cup. Most of them drink at the counter and there’s hardly ever a wait. It’s one of the cheapest pleasures in Italy and rarely exceeds €1 unless you sit down at a table or find yourself in front of Piazza della Signoria, Piazza del Popolo or Piazza San Marco where good views can significantly multiply cost.

Before placing an order consider your options:

When you order a caffè (coffee) in Italy you automatically get an espresso. It’s served black in a ceramic cup unless al vetro (glass) is requested. It can be ordered corto (short) or lungo (long) giving it a slightly stronger or weaker flavor.

Caffè Macchiato
Macchiato literally means ‘stained’ and it’s how Italians get a dash of steamed milk added to their espresso.

Latte Macchiato
This is the opposite of Caffè Macchiato or a glass of warm milk ‘stained’ with a little coffee.

Cappuccino is one of Italy’s greatest exports. It’s almost always ordered in the morning and often accompanied by a pastry.

Marocchino or Moroccan is a cross between a caffè macchiato and miniature cappuccino topped with cacao and served in a small glass or ceramic cup.

Caffè Freddo/

Italians don’t stop drinking coffee in summer but they often order cold (freddo) or iced coffee when temperatures rise. A shakerato is an espresso blended or shaken with crush iced and served in a cocktail glass. Both occasionally come pre sweetened.

Spremuta d’Arancia
If you don’t drink coffee or have had too many you can always order fresh squeezed orange juice. Most bars have sophisticated juicers and Sicilian oranges are available nearly all year round.

For more gastronomy & insights pack Moon: Rome, Florence & Venice
on your next trip to Italy.

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