Coffee culture in Italy, a proud history

ROME - Espresso, latte and cappuccino are words that Italians are passionate about when it comes to coffee. Coffee in Italy dates back to the 16th century and since then the excitement over coffee has never worn off. When the first coffee was poured in Venezia, Italians showed their true excitement and adoration for what was to become a huge part of Italian culture. Today, many Italian households still have a “machinetta,” which was first created in 1933. This stove-top percolator makes some of the best espresso, quickly and cost-effectively all in the comfort of your own home.  

 An Italian who does not drink coffee often has to explain this unfamiliar phenomenon. While the rest of the world is on the bandwagon to give up caffeine, we don’t tend to conform to society. Italians stick to culture and traditions and that is just one reason the rest of the world love to travel here. It’s like coming home after a long day of being told what to do. You get to finally take off your shoes, sip on your cup of fully caffeinated coffee and just breathe.

 If you are lucky enough to find yourself in Italy and want to experience authentic Italian coffee culture, your first thought is to order the classic espresso. You might even contemplate your first cappuccino, but it is important to remember that many of the now globally famous coffee lingos were invented here in Italy. This is no coincidence because the first steam-driven coffee machine was in fact invented by an Italian.

 Ordering a Grande in an Italian restaurant will get you a very strong espresso, only experts should attempt this grand experience. Unless you find yourself at a train station, you would usually be greeted with porcelain cups instead of the conventional takeaway cups. Italians are known to experience coffee as a literal break from life, instead of a quick drive-by experience.

 If you want to experience a little of that famous “La Dolce Vita” that Italy is so famous for, it is best to stick to long-established Italian traditions when it comes to coffee. Italians have their cappuccino at breakfast to awaken the spirit within. Although the rest of the world is accustomed to having their morning coffee with milk, it is not the norm in Italy. There is something different about the coffee in Italy though.

 Italian coffee offers a surprising tone in terms of its complexity and richness in flavor.  Once you try an Italian heavily roasted coffee with its bittersweet tones, you will understand why Italians love their coffee. In Italy, coffee is served with a glass of water. It is not a customary act around the globe, but it is part of the experience when it comes to a good cup of coffee. This is simply used to cleanse the palate before drinking the coffee. After all, having more than 7 espressos in Italy a day is not unusual. Perhaps this is why so much gets done here.

 A typical Italian “breakfast” includes a sweet pastry paired with a delicious cup of coffee. An interesting fact to add is that Italians do not order “milky” coffee after 11am. Espresso is more the style preferred at lunchtime or later in the day.  This is very different to what the rest of the word is doing, but it is the rituals and rules that make the coffee experience just a bit more special here. When it comes to evening time, you might want to enjoy an Al Banco, which is often served as an end of the day enjoyed while chatting away with your friends. It might seem like a lot of rules to have a simple cup of coffee, but the Italians have got it right so many times before. Perhaps the world isn’t wrong for adapting to their culture.

 Italy has a historically rich culture in so many avenues and coffee is definitely one of their traditional enjoyments. When you think about Italy, many things come to mind. There is the food, wine, landscapes, traditions and, last but not least, is coffee. Avid travelers are aware of the rich historical culture offered in this part of the world. In fact, Italy receives tens of thousands expats in the form of working professionals, tourists and students each year.

 If you are a coffee lover like me, or just want to learn more about the coffee culture in Italy, you should go ahead and download my e-book the “5 must known rules for enjoying coffee in Italy” (