Coffee in Italy: Common customs, secrets, mysteries, and sins
In Milan, as in the rest of Italy, a cup of coffee is more than just a ritual. In Italy, drinking coffee is a spiritual experience. It has become a way of life and a symbol of the “Italian brand,” representing a particular perspective on the country’s culture and social dynamics. You can always count on Italians to have a coffee in hand, whether you’re visiting them in a bar or inviting them over for dinner. However, the culture of Italian coffee is a unique synthesis of customs, history, and traditions. While coffee preparation and bar culture may vary slightly from one region to the next, the basics—espresso, a standing bar, and a delightfully chaotic, convivial atmosphere—remain constant.
If Italian coffee history demonstrates anything, it’s that coffee culture is an integral part of Italian culture, a celebration of community and the small pleasures of life and a tribute to the decades of hard work and perseverance that have gone into perfecting a craft that provides simple pleasures to ordinary people. The espresso coffee and its associated coffee culture will never leave Italy. Given all this, and considering how seriously Italians take their coffee, it’s vital that visitors to Milan (or anywhere else in Italy) avoid making any rookie mistake when placing orders at bars and cafés.
In order to fully appreciate the delights of this unique beverage, it is important to first learn and then imitate the customs associated with drinking coffee in Milan. Some of these rituals may appear ridiculous, and some may even have an air of fanaticism. They may not all be perfect, but they all have one thing in common: they are genuine and of high quality. Naturally, you can count on both qualities in an Italian coffee.
Many people, both native and foreign, consider Italian coffee to be the finest in the world. We don’t mean coffee beans here; Italy’s environment makes it hard to cultivate coffee trees. Instead, we’re talking about the beans themselves, the combinations of those beans, the grinding process, and the final preparation.
Additionally, the preferred method of roasting among Italians is crucial. Here, a gentler roasting method is chosen, in contrast to the more robust roasting that is standard elsewhere. The coffee’s strength and color are preserved, and the beans gain nuanced aromatic complexity that’s prized by experts. Also, Italy is the birthplace of the espresso coffee machine. This method not only produces a tasty coating of froth, but also extracts the coffee’s maximal organoleptic characteristics in a short period of time, in a highly concentrated, somewhat creamy state.
However, the mocha coffee method was found in Italy long before the advent of espresso coffee makers, that are so emblematic of Italian cafés and bars. In other words, the equipment known as a moka pot, which consists of two chambers separated by a funnel-shaped filter into which one places ground coffee and through which water brought to a boil in the lower chamber. Keep in mind that once coffee is ground, it immediately starts to lose its beneficial characteristics. This is why high-quality coffee shops only use freshly ground beans in their machines. Whenever there is an excess, it is discarded and not kept for future use.
How to order coffee in Italy?
You may usually find Italians ordering their coffee from the bar. It’s ordered and paid for before it’s even made, and it’s always accompanied with a glass of water to rinse the mouth both before & after the ritual. The average time spent drinking coffee in this region is less than five minutes, however it happens multiple times daily. Every situation calls for a different kind of Italian coffee. What’s more, each one can be quite distinct from the others. Morning cappuccino or macchiato is very different from afternoon ristretto or early evening corretto.
However, that doesn’t exclude you from getting your coffee exactly how you like it and at any time that suits you. But let’s just say that it won’t be popular with Italians, who, in the case of Italy, are all coffee purists.
The size and the cup
Be aware that coffees with milk are only appropriate for consumption in the morning. Neither at lunch nor supper, and of course, never with dessert.
Once you’ve decided on a coffee, you’ll need to select a size. You can get a caffe lungo (lungo is Italian for long; this is an espresso with twice as much water as is typically used) or a caffe ristretto (shortened) when ordering an espresso (shorter and more condensed than a regular espresso). You might use a tazza grande (large cup) or a vetro (glass) for your beverage (a cup made of glass). If you don’t know what you like, tell the barista to make their “speciale,” and you’ll probably be pleasantly pleased.
Cafés in Milan
Milan is teeming with cafes that cater to every imaginable palette and price point. Some of the best suggestions are as follows.
Caffè Cova is located at 8 Monte Napoleone and is one of the few traditional cafes still operating in the face of increasing competition from chain restaurants. In addition to the many coffee offerings, the menu’s selection of cakes and pastries is hard to resist.
The focus of Taglio (Vigevano, 10) is, of course, coffee. You can get a sandwich there, have a drink, or set up your laptop and get some work done. Having a nostalgic atmosphere is a big part of the venue’s appeal.
Biancolatte (Filippo Turati, 30): serves a wide variety of coffee beverages, chocolate beverages, tea beverages, and desserts. The cuisine, which features classic Milanese and Italian fare, also makes it a pleasant place to stop for lunch or an aperitivo.
In Milan, you can get some of the city’s best coffee at Corso Como (Corso Como, 10). In fact, it’s a multi-functional venue where designers, musicians, chefs, and other tastemakers can showcase their wares.
From the minute you reach your destination, you may explore Milan on your own with a self-guided Vox City audio tour. Benefit instantly from their distinctive navigation features, which render self-guiding simple, and explore the area via the many paths that have been suggested. As you get closer to Milan’s famous sites like the Duomo, Sforzesco Castle, Santa Maria delle Grazie, and Sempione Park, you’ll feel a strong sense of the city’s rich history and culture. Travelers can choose between self-guided tours and sightseeing packages to explore all that Milan has to offer. Take a self-guided tour if you want to explore at your own pace, or choose one of their sightseeing packages with local guides to learn about Milan’s diverse cultural offerings.
Listen to your audio guide to find out more about the top attractions, and stop whenever you like to rest and recharge. Get ready to continue your Vox City-style exploration of Milan by plotting out your next walking route, identifying your favorite sites, finding the greatest coffee shops, and identifying the best photo hotspots!
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