What is coffee?

My sixth attempt answering “What is coffee?”

Coffee is . . .

  • understanding
  • mandatory
  • reassuring
  • peace
  • soothing
  • essential
  • required
*all responses–me, and a whole lot of other people I imagine


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 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

Italian Prelude

Get ready people!

I’m going to Italy!


In 2005 I studied abroad in Rome, Italy, and it was amazing. It was my first time to Europe, and I got to live there.

I studied art, architecture, religion, and Italian. I went to an opera, I took a wine tasting class, I sipped on espresso. I had the time of my life. I have nothing but fond memories of this experience. 13 years later, I’m headed back.

At the end of October I will be in Rome for 5 days, then I will take a train north. In Rome, I will be alone to explore and revisit this beautiful historical and cultural hub. In the north, I will be staying with a family through a culture/work exchange discovered and arranged through WorkAway.

I’m thrilled to study everything all over again, to maybe have the time of my life, again, and, of course, add to my burgeoning coffee knowledge-base. 😉 ☕

Italy is a coffee giant. Italy has its own coffee culture, and it shapes coffee culture as we know it–get ready for a whole new level of learning and sharing; I’m ready, are you?

Coffee Lesson #11

coffee blend:

  • combination of coffees
    • coffee is blended (combined) for culinary and economic purposes
  • process, or art, that mixes coffee in order to complement the flavor of each selection of coffee
  • coffee beans from two or more different locations that are mixed and roasted together

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