And most of the Italians ‘need’ their coffee in the morning. Compared to the American coffee the espresso is nearly ‘invisible’. It’s just a sip, one sip, not more. Out of a tiny little cup, the espresso cup. The American coffee is half a liter of brewed coffee, very light, enriched with artificial flavors and oftentimes sold in a foam cup with a lid.
The ‘real’ Italian coffee is served in a coffee shop, coffee bar or coffee house, in Italy called simply Bar. It’s part of the traditional breakfast to go before work into a bar and have a ‘caffè’. Served normally in a little white, very thick cup, so hot you can’t even hold it with the two fingers. Espresso cups are stored on top of the hot coffee machines to keep them warm, so the served coffee will stay hot a little longer. Because the espresso must be consumed at a certain temperature, hot and not one degree less than you can drink it. The coffee is creamy, sometimes so thick that the little spoon you turn the sugar with (or in some bars you get also honey) sinks only slowly to the edge of the cup.
Well, it’s very difficult to find a good espresso outside Italy, I know that from experience. I do my espresso at home. With a Moka pot. A little machine invented by Luigi de Ponti and patented in Italy by A. Bialetti in 1933. And yes, mine is a Bialetti, the simple Grey one.
The difference to American brewed coffee is that the water in the Moka pot is in the bottom part, the coffee in the middle in a funnel and comes out in the upper part, pressed out by the steam of the hot water.
The espresso is the most common and known coffee we have. But there are a lot more, some also known outside the country. You can have the coffee, when you drink it at the bar, with a little milk to be a Caffè Macchiato. Men often like a Caffè Corretto, with a little Grappa, women often have Bailey’s instead (me, me, me!!). The Marocchino has some cocoa and milk foam. The American style coffee is called Americano, espresso with a lot of water in a bigger coffee cup. Some call it also Caffé Tedesco, German coffee. Italians go crazy when people order pizza and Cappuccino together… a completely no-go! Caffè Latte or Latte Macchiato is served in a high glass, espresso and lots of milk. The Mokaccino instead is a great combination of espresso, hot chocolate and milk, topped with milk foam and cocoa powder.
And don’t forget: in Italy we drink the coffee, whatever kind, most of the time standing at the counter. If you want to sit instead, the price is a little higher. And a bar refers to a coffee shop, the one for the evening leisure is called a night bar.
Enjoy your espresso!
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For further information:
A video about how to make a real homemade espresso with a Moka machine