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Art, Culture And Variations Of Italian Coffee

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November 13, 2009 Coffee, Cultural Musings, Culture & People, Food & Drink 1 Comment

While coffee beans are neither grown nor harvested in any part of Italy, the coffee roasted and blended here is among the best in the world. Romans are just as proud of their coffee as inhabitants of any other part of Italy. But ‘proud’ is probably the wrong term: Good coffee is considered such an utter necessity that when the famished contestants of the italian version of the reality TV show ‘Survivor’ were left stranded on a deserted island equipped only with the most basic of necessities, this ‘basic equipment’ included the implements for making a perfect coffee (but not their mobile phones, nor anything resembling pasta or pizza).

p cafe eroi rome Art, Culture And Variations Of Italian Coffee

Coffee Bar Piazzale degli Eroi

The coffee culture is firmly woven into the cutural fabric of this country: The day starts and ends with coffee, and each time one gets bored or needs a ‘snack’, a coffee break – initiated with a simple ‘Prendiamo un caffè?’ – is the most natural course of action.

In Rome, the traditional breakfast is a combined ‘cappuccino e cornetto’, a creamy coffee with frothed milk, and a delicious flaky croissant that comes either plain or with custard or jam. Apart from that, the simple ‘caffè’ (a shot of espresso) is the most commonly enjoyed form of coffee. Ordering any coffee with milk after breakfast will earn you frowns from the barista, and is a sure way of disclosing your status as a tourist.

Even though the quality of coffee can vary from bar to bar, its general standard is so high that you are almost guaranteed a good coffee at any bar in town. A large percentage of bars even serve truly great coffee, and given that the number of coffee bars appears to almost rival the number of cobblestones in this city, you should have no trouble finding such an establishment even during a short stay in Rome. Bear in mind that the truly great coffee bars need not as a rule be the most exclusive ones.

Since Italians tend to drink their coffee very quickly, standing up, most bars only have limited tables with seating (or none at all). Catering to this habit, and perhaps in an attempt not to have constantly overcrowded tables, the price of coffee consumed while standing at the bar is extremely reasonable – at least half the price of a coffee had sitting down.

The legitimate varieties of Italian coffee are these:

Caffè ristretto: For those who like their espresso extra strong.
Caffè lungo: The opposite of a ristretto. Basically, it’s watered-down espresso. The barista gives an extra long pull on the lever to achieve this effect.
Caffè Americano: Really watered-down espresso, a single shot with 6-8 ounces of water added.
Caffè macchiato: A regular shot of espresso topped with a spoonful of milk foam
Caffè corretto: A personal favorite, this literally means “corrected coffee”. The stimulating effect of the caffeine is “corrected” by the soporific effect of an additive such as brandy or grappa.
Caffè latte: This is coffee with lots of milk, no foam. Do not shorten the term to “latte” unless you want a glass of milk. Latte is the Italian word for milk with no coffee implied.
Cappuccino normale: The genuine article.
Caffè or cappuccino ben caldo or bollente: Ask for this if you want your drink boiling hot. Traditional cappuccino is merely warm.
Caffè or cappuccino Hag: Hag is actually a brand name (the “h” is silent), but it’s a sure way of guaranteeing that you will get your brew decaffeinated. Decaffinato, isn’t always understood.
Caffè marocchino: it has nothing to do with Morocco and every barista has his own recipe, so it will always be a surprise. Basically it’s coffee on top of a taste of dark bitter chocolate, then whipped cream or milk foam and chocolate powder on top.

Source: inromenow.com

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    [...] and variations of coffee in Italy (complete with a directory of legitimate coffee varieties) here – and more coffee-related wisdom in the form of ten commandments here. A lady with her [...]

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