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. 😀

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