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Rule #5: How to drink coffee

December 15, 2010

Like many Americans, I am addicted to coffee.  But this post isn’t about me and my addiction, which predates my obsession with Italy.  It’s about coffee culture in Italy.

This is Rule #5: How to drink coffee.  As such, reflecting the intricacies of its subject, it contains a several by-laws.

Sub-Rule 5.i: Never drink lattes after lunch (or after dinner.)  Latte and cappuccino–any combination of coffee and a significant amount of hot milk–is intended for breakfast only, to be consumed on an empty stomach.  The substance of the milk combined with the caffeine in the coffee gets you out of bed and into the fresh air.  If you’re lucky, the barista will make you a little design in your foam:

Sub-Rule 5.ii: You can’t find American-style drip coffee in Italy.  Don’t even try.  If you’re desperate, you can order an Americano, just like at Starbucks.  Except in Italy, they brew the espresso into a larger mug, and give you a little pitcher of hot water to pour in yourself.

Sub-Rule 5.iii: There are no Starbucks in Italy.  (Even though Starbucks is inspired by Italian cafe culture.)  But there is a bar (translation: coffee shop) on every corner of every street in every city, usually advertised with a convenient sign that you can see from down the street.

Sub-Rule 5.iv: You don’t drink coffee (or soda, or water, or anything else) while you are doing something else.  You don’t have a giant coffee mug from last year’s vacation at your desk.  You don’t carry a cute travel mug as you walk the streets on a cold day .

Sub-Rule 5.v: But the good news is that, although you have to disconnect from the American-style caffeine IV, you still get to caffeinate.  An espresso break is like a smoke break in Italy: leave your place of employment, walk down the street, order a shot of espresso (“un caffe, per piacere”) for about 50 euro-cents, lean against the bar like the sexy beast  you are, and walk back across the street to work.  Rinse and repeat as many times per day as necessary.

Sub-Rule After a meal (after dessert and after the fruit course), order an espresso.  It will help you digest and avoid a post-meal slump.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Katherina permalink
    December 15, 2010 11:16 am

    just a coupple notes:
    1. coffe is now 1 euro
    2. referred to a precedent post, being waitress for almost 10 years, i’m seeing that the doggie bag is becoming something a bit more usual, still a bit stranger, but less than some years ago.

  2. December 15, 2010 11:46 am

    Aww. Cute. I have never had a cup of coffee with a design on it. Is it silly to have that as a goal. 🙂

  3. Bunny, your cat permalink
    December 15, 2010 11:50 am

    oh yea!! Great post! Can you bring me one of those birds? Apt life with 40″ of snow is curtailing my birding experience.

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