Coffee in Italy

Coffee in Italy (v. the US):

5 things I researched, and also experienced, 13 years ago and this time around

  • bar = coffee shop
    • You go to the bar for coffee, the bar is not your local pub.
  • No milk options/questions
    • When I order a cup of coffee, or any coffee drink in the US, I’m almost always asked what kind of milk I want with my drink. I usually ask what is available and am treated to a nice list of options. I keep my ears open for almond, cashew, or oat. *This is very much an American experience.*
      • No such questions are ever asked by baristas in Italy. I asked a few locals and they laughed at my list of milks, and asked how it tasted with coffee with curiosity and bewilderment, because it is very much a foreign concept. They also informed me that maybe you can get soy, but no, there’s no litany or automatic choices for milk, and soy is very much a maybe.
  • latte = milk
    • If I go to a coffee shop in the US I can order a latte by merely saying “latte.” However, latte is not an English word in origin, and it literally means milk. In Italy, I order a caffé latte to be more accurate.
  • No time for reading, or working, or gaming, or whatever at the bar 😉
    • It’s a bar, there’s a counter, you get your drink, you take it, and you go back to your life. The concept of getting coffee and sitting down to drink it for an hour or so, the concept of a prolonged coffee escape, that is very much an American concept.
  • Coffee all day, every day, every moment of the day
    • These people drink coffee. They pack it away! I get jittery just thinking about it. Coffee is a quick event that happens frequently throughout the day. There is no meal or snack where I am not offered coffee. It’s a daily, all day, recurring thing to consume during your day. If I drank this much, this often, I’m pretty sure I would have dropped dead of a heart attack by now–I haven’t even tried to keep up with the locals. I can’t do it.

There are definitely more differences, but these first 5 struck me the most. I still have another month here, I’ll see what more I can discover and learn through this cultural exchange. 😀

Candy for breakfast?

At home I regularly drink coffee sans cream and sugar. Sure I go through phases where I might add a little brown sugar, or I might add a bit of half-and-half, but for the most part plain coffee is my jam.

Outside of my home, I’m all about the fancy flavors. It makes my coffee more special, and I feel more justified in the expenditure–if it’s special than it’s okay to spend money on it!

However, I may be able to get some fancy flavors, and save some money, coming this new year.

I just learned that Coffee-mate will be coming out with Snickers and Dove Chocolate creamers!

I have a sweet tooth and I can definitely get on-board with these options. I was already excited for the new year, now I’m even more excited. I already knew I would break some New Year’s resolutions, but this time I know how I will break my sweets and desserts one😝.

There’s always news in the coffee-world, I think I just shared my favorite story of the year. Cheers!

Coffee Humor

Please, please, please follow @coffee.quotes on Instagram! They make me laugh on a regular basis–so much truth, so much humor.


“I love the smell of freshly brewed coffee in the morning . . . And I love the sound of no one talking to me while I drink it.”


“Forget love. Fall in coffee.”


“I only drink coffee Monday through Friday and on the weekends.”


“A poem for mornings:

Coffee, coffee, coffee

Everyone shut up



“Before coffee, I’m a hot mess. After? I’m a wide awake hot mess. So there’s that.”

Coffee Lesson #12

arabica (coffee arabica, Arabian coffee, mountain coffee):

  • an evergreen plant with seeds that produce high-quality coffee
    • plant is native to Ethiopia
    • the name “arabica” comes from historical context: it was eaten in Ethiopia, then traveled to Arabia (present-day Yemen, lower Arabian peninsula) in the 7th century where it was turned into a drink, so it was discovered as a drink in Arabia
  • considered, recorded, and thought to be the first species of coffee to be cultivated
  • arguably the best, most prized, coffee

Chino Hills: Platform 909

I have recently enjoyed some time in my hometown. Nearly three weeks of uninterrupted time has given me the chance to leisurely explore, and to find a new appreciation for my particular section of southern California.

On one particularly eventful day, I drove over to Chino Hills to visit Chino Hills State Park. In October, it happen to be 90 degrees, quite the unusually warm day to visit and hike around a park.

I enjoyed a nice breeze, some outstanding overlooks, and a short sweaty hike. It was a brief but beautiful visit. At its end, I really felt like something more than water, perhaps a good cup of coffee. Hello Google.

I had been researching local coffee shops since my arrival in southern California and I had stumbled upon Platform 909. It had peaked my interest but I hadn’t been close enough to make a stop. Turns out, it’s less than a mile from Chino Hills State Park!

Platform 909 is a Harry Potter-inspired coffee shop, which I did not realize until I entered it. For some reason I had focused on the 909 part, and fallen in love because this was my area code as a child. I just felt that it would be fun to go somewhere that was somehow honoring my original and specific Californian identity (someone from the 909).

Anyway, I walked in and was thrilled to see the sprinkles of Harry Potter decor. It made me think of Bad Owl, it made me feel like I had been transported to my other home: Las Vegas, Nevada.

The venue is relatively small, but there are plenty of options for seating (tall tables, small tables, a couple of cushioned chairs). The lighting is excellent, lots of natural light, which is my personal favorite. The parking is free and plentiful, which is important anywhere but certainly in southern California. Finally, the customer service is absolutely outstanding.

The woman answered all of my questions: they’ve only been open about a year, this is their only location, they serve tea along with coffee, and yes this a Harry Potter inspired place.

The barista also explained their Spanish latte.

Spanish Latte: coffee, condensed milk, a sprinkle of cinnamon.

Not overly sweet, not as much as you’d think; great hot or iced.

I decided to go for it–I purchased an iced Spanish latte.


It was delightful. The condensed milk was not overpowering, the drink had only a bit of sweetness. The cinnamon on top I immediately mixed into the drink, so when I was drinking I had hints of cinnamon here and there. The combination, the balance of condensed milk and coffee, was perfect for me. I had enough coffee and enough milk to enjoy my drink as well as get a dose of coffee/caffeine for the day.

If you’re in southern California, close to Chino Hills, make a stop at Platform 909, the coffee is magical.

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