In Italy, drinking coffee is as much of a tradition as eating and sleeping. Italians just love coffee! These days here in the UK and America it comes in all shapes, sizes and flavours, but in Italy it is still very much done the old fashioned way.
Not an Italian invention at all, it was originally discovered by a goat herder in Ethiopia, who noticed one day that his goats were really hyper after eating some seeds. Somehow, that led to discovering that grinding the seeds and then soaking them in hot water made a delicious drink that would also make humans hyper. First brought to into Italy via Venice in the Middle Ages, and originally only used for medicinal purposes by the upper class, it slowly became the country’s drink of choice, and an everyday part of Italian life.
The most popular choice of coffee in Italy is the simple shot of espresso. Consumed all throughout the day, it’s both strong, full of caffeine and deliciously creamy when done right (despite containing no cream). Known in Italy as just ‘un caffé’ – ‘a coffee’, the term espresso isn’t really used in Italy. Often served with a glass of water, and usually drank stood up at the bar. Cappuccinos on the other hand are only ever drank in Italy at breakfast time. Ordering one after 10am or so may result in funny looks, Italians say the fact it’s mostly milk messes with digestion when it comes to eating lunch or dinner. Many Italian waiters we have had over the years here in Romiley have always been completely baffled by people ordering cappuccinos before, after or even during their evening meal!
A longer coffee more like what is consumed here in the UK is called a Caffé Americano – literally a shot of espresso with a full cup full of water filtered through. Caffé latte, or latte, is an American invention that isn’t found in Italian coffee bars (except ones catering for tourists). I’ve had a few customers telling me they ordered a latte on a trip to Italy and just received a glass of warm milk…! Other American or UK inventions include the frappé / frappuccino and the caramel or other flavoured coffees. In Italy coffee isn’t to be messed with, and doesn’t really need to be spoiled with the addition of anything else.
Italians are so proud of their coffee heritage that Italy is one of the very few developed countries in the world not to contain any of the big American coffee chains at all, such as Starbucks, Costa and Caffe Nero etc. They are happy enough as it is with their small family owned local bars, literally found on every street all throughout italy.
Not content with just making good coffee, Italy has to make good coffee machines too. Every household in Italy has a moka machinetta machine to make surprisingly good espresso on the hob at home, and bialetti or Gaggia or DeLonghi coffee machines are found in every good restaurant and bar all over the world.
Here at The Italian we use an old Italian Gaggia machine, it literally seems like the older the machine gets the better the coffee it makes! We import our coffee beans from Italy – espresso is certainly the choice of fuel for all our Italian staff members!
Pop in anytime and ask to see our coffee menu… Our coffees are also available to takeaway if you are passing by in the evening and are in need of a boost!