Italy is famous for coffee but there is not a plant of coffee growing in the Country. How does Italy become one of the top coffee exporters in the world?

It is because of espresso-style coffee, that means a process from selecting varieties, roasting style and especially the art of making.

The first energy drink of the “old world” was probably used by the shepherds in Africa or the middle east. The habit of roast and ground coffee beans was very popular amongst Arabic people for Centuries. Not popular until the XV Century, drinking coffee was often associate to not-Christians behaviour.

Venice was probably one of the first European cities to see the arrival of coffee beans, welcomed by some but also very criticized.  But soon Italians started to love the beverage, included Pope Clemente VII who was so in love with coffee to externalize that be a coffee drinker was not against to be a good Christian.

Anyway, thanks to the introduction of sugar in the food system to become more and more popular than was necessary to open coffee houses.

In England, the first coffee house opened in Oxford in 1637 followed by many others, turned soon into clubs for intellectuals and politicians.

During the 17th Century, European colonials overseas started to cultivate coffee in the new world, now main coffee producers are Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador and many other south Americans countries.

Nowadays is just crazy to think to start a day without a cup of coffee for millions of people worldwide, but in Italy is also a social and cultural need. The first thought in the morning, a very comfort flavour when something goes wrong, the first way to approach a new friend or a business meeting.

Many travellers are really surprised about how different is to enjoy the coffee time in Italy. For instance, in Rome is not a relaxing moment.

At home, until the laziness (together with Clooney advises) affected all the people that runt to buy the home espresso machine, the most popular coffee at home was done with the “macchinetta,” the amazing espresso machine invented by Mr Bialetti in 1933. Is the easiest cheapest and traditional way to make a delicious coffee…if used properly of course.

At the “bar”, that is not a night club for music and alcohol here, but simply a coffee house that serves coffee, cappuccino, pastries and some sandwiches and snacks, ordering a coffee means just one thing: ordering an espresso coffee.

Espresso can be ordered in many different ways according to the preferred style, that sometimes refers to pour some milk or others inside, or even the choice of the cup shape and material. Your favourite bar -generally the one “sotto casa” or close to the office is generally managed by people that know everything about you, because the “barista”, the one who prepares your coffee, is not a stranger, is a confessor, a friend, sometimes a “guru” and philosopher.

If this sounds weird to you, just come to experience directly. Be sure no one will forgive a bartender for a not good coffee…is just something that can ruin your day. It’s an art, and there’s no kidding around about the perfect espresso: rich, creamy, perfectly balanced from start to finish, not one coffee ground burned by the scorching hot.

How to order a coffee in Rome

Example a) I need espresso coffee

  1. Access the bar
  2. Look around to find the cashier and reach it (maybe there will be a not ordered line, be brave)
  3. Ask for “un espresso” and pay
  4. Bring the bill to the bartender (probably he will be busy)
  5. Try to get bartender attention (be brave), then ask
  6. Give the bartender the bill (he will probably look and strap a little)
  7. Put the bill on the bar (generally, locals leave a spare coin to hold the paper down – that is also the little tip to the bartender)
  8. Take your coffee

Example b) I need cappuccino and cornetto (traditional Italian breakfast)

  1. Access the bar and have a look at the display to choose what you’d like to buy
  2. Look around to find the cashier and reach it (maybe there will be a not ordered line, be brave)
  3. Tell “cappuccino e cornetto” what you like (you’d need to know before you go) and pay
  4. Bring the bill to the bartender (probably he will be busy)
  5. Put the bill on the bar (generally, locals leave a spare coin to hold the paper down – that is also the little tip to the bartender)
  6. Ask for what you’d like
  7. Eat your cornetto and drink your cappuccino standing at the bar

Coffee styles

Caffè or Espresso: a straight shot of coffee.

Caffè americano: not exactly coffee as known in the United States, generally is just espresso coffee and hot water in the cappuccino cup (that is not the size of a mug, do not complain).

Caffè corretto: espresso “corrected” by a shot of liquor or Sambuca. Style beloved by men after a meal.

Caffè macchiato: espresso “stained” with a dab of steamed milk.

Caffè ristretto: espresso with a tad less water, stronger than regular espresso.

Caffè in tazza grande: is espresso in the cappuccino cup.

Caffè marocchino: espresso coffee with milk froth and chocolate powder.

Cappuccio or cappuccino: coffee combined with steamed milk (more so than macchiato) and taken only at breakfast.

No matter what style is, the important is that is done with love, take our Espresso, Gelato and Tiramisu tour of Rome to discover much more!