Cappuccino, Espresso or Macchiato?
Feel like a coffee?
Time of day.
Look, let's be real, everyone has their favourite so yes, go ahead and order a cappuccino after a gloriously abundant lunch if that's what you feel like, just know an Italian would never do that.
There's a time and place for every culinary thing in Italy, a tried and tested time and place. It works, it's worked for millennia, why stop now?
There's especially a time of day for every coffee, we'll try to break it down, you'll notice it is meal-based...
Morning - espresso, cappuccino, macchiato
Afternoon (just after lunch, with dessert) - espresso, caffè corretto, macchiato, crema al caffè
Afternoon - espresso, macchiato
Evening (after dinner) - caffè corretto, espresso, macchiato, affogato, crema al caffè
Late night - espresso, caffè corretto, crema al caffè
Macchiato means 'stained' - you can 'stain' your coffee with milk or your milk with coffee - latte macchiato.
Espresso Ristretto - one shot, very 'corto' - small
Espresso - one shot
Doppio (double) Espresso - two shots
Espresso Lungo - one shot but 'longer' - more water, in a small cup
Macchiato Caldo - Espresso Lungo with a blob of milk froth (a small cappuccino)
Macchiato Freddo - one shot with some cold milk
Macchiato Lungo - espresso lungo with a blob of milk froth
Macchiato Lungo in Tazza Grande - Macchiato Lungo in a medium cup
Latte Macchiato - a glass of steamed milk with a shot of espresso AKA Latte
Cappuccino - one shot, steamed milk and milk froth in a medium cup
Affogato - one espresso poured over a ball of vanilla ice cream as dessert
Crema al caffè - cold, smooth, thick coffee and milk cream
Caffè Corretto - one shot 'corrected' with a tot of Grappa, Sambuca, Baileys or brandy
When coffee is made at home, it's affectionately made on a stove with a moka, a nifty apparatus invented by Italian engineer Alfonso Bialetti in 1933. You fill it with pre-ground coffee, found cheaply in supermarkets, and cold water which boils up through the coffee grains. A simple design that's lasted years and continues to be used daily in Italian households. Many kitchens hold the infamous Nespresso machine or versions thereof but Italians still love the homely, simple taste of moka coffee and the memories it stirs. With its gurgling sound, called the 'stromboli effect' (after the volcano), it's part of an early morning or lunchtime ritual.
The moka pot is an emblem of timeless, Italian, deco design, made to this day with its characteristic black, bakelite handle.
With an average of four coffees consumed per capita a day, one soon drifts towards a particular brand. Be it Illy or Lavazza, coffee is supposed to be quick and unassuming. There are thousands upon thousands of bars in Italy and the reason is simple. With a culturally ingrained coffee-vice in a country like Italy, you can walk up to the banco, order an espresso, pay, and drink it in less than 2 minutes with no such thing as a skinny pumpkin-spiced latte in sight.
If you love coffee but hate caffeine, well, there is always caffè deca - decaffeinated. And guess what? There's also orzo. Kid-friendly, zero coffee, orzo is toasted barley and can be consumed just like coffee in bars and at home. So, there's really no excuse. Just be aware, the more south you go, the stronger the coffee.
When in Rome... you know how it goes.