caffè

java in all its glorious forms

The same word also means a café. While Italy boasts some of the most beautiful and historic coffee houses in the world, the average one has as much personality as a petrol station, which in a way they are; when an Italian's motor is running down, he or she pops into a caffè, orders an espresso at the bar, chucks it down, and is out the door in a couple of minutes, happy and refuelled.

It's so rare to get a really bad coffee in Italy, even in tourist areas, that it comes as a shock if you ever do. Of course some caffès have better baristas better than others, and most Italians have their favourite brand of torrefazione. Most caffès and bars prominently display which one they use—most common ones are Lavazza, which claims about three quarters of the market, Illy and Segafreddo).

If you just ask for a caffè, you'll get an espresso: four or five sips in a 25 ml tiny cup. If you want it decaffeinated, ask for a caffè Hag (the leading brand), or a deca, or a decafinato. If you order any kind of coffee with milk in it after noon you'll be pegged straightaway as a tourist, even if you're wearing Prada, Gucci and speak with an impeccable Italian accent.

Of course there are many ways to have your caffè...

al vetro: in a glass instead of a cup; also known as in B (in a bicchiere)

caffè affogato: with a ball of ice cream

caffè americano: an espresso diluted with hot water, served in a large cup (around 80ml). It's still stronger than the average American coffee. The Italians sniff that it's only acqua sporca 'dirty water.'

bicerin: coffee, chocolate and milk (only in Turin)

bombardino: hot espresso mixed with brandy and Advocaat

cappuccino: espresso with foaming hot milk

caffè borghetti: espresso liqueur

caffè con panna: with whipped cream

caffè corretto: espresso with a snort

caffè doppio: double espresso

caffè freddo: iced. Often a very sweet cold espresso, sometimes poured over a glass of ice. Many now prefer a shakerato (see below).

granita di caffè: coffee-flavoured ice, generally served with cream

caffè latte: roughly one third espresso, the rest hot milk. Note: if you just say 'latte', you may well get a glass of milk.

caffè lungo: a diluted espresso (same amount of coffee, with twice as much water) Around 40ml

caffè macchiato: espresso 'stained' with a tiny bit of milk (you can also get latte macchiata, hot milk 'stained' with coffee)

caffè marocchino: espresso with hot milk and cocoa powder

caffè ristretto (or caffè stretto): an espresso with slightly less water—les then 20ml (in the old days an experience barman could do this just right, making coffee with less caffeine and acid, but more aroma. Many coffee aficionados say it can't be done on the modern machines in use now, so the phrase has lost all meaning)

caffè schiumato: brewed to have that lovely light brown foam on top; some call this crema.

caffè con schiuma: with hot milk foam

caffè shakerato: espresso with ice and cane syrup.

caffè sospeso: a 'suspended coffee', a tradition that originated in Naples, the idea being that when ordering your coffee you pay for two, also anonymously gifting a coffee to a stranger in need.

caffè sport: espresso with sugar, cinnamon, liqueur and vanilla. Popular in Bologna

caffé valdostana: with Genepy etc, and set alight

capo in B: a cappuccino in a glass in Trieste, although with less milk

espressino: same as a caffè marocchino

goccia: with a drop of milk foam in the centre

nero: a black espresso

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