Caffé Vergnano is the #1 best-selling Nespresso Compatible Coffee Capsule in Italy. Worldwide, Italian Coffee is highly regarded. In fact, what the world knows as 'coffee culture' is very much Italy-inspired, though global espresso culture has evolved a bit beyond its original Italian roots.
Coffee is now considered the number one consumed beverage in the world, (ahead of beer, tea, and even orange juice). And since the espresso machine was invented by Angelo Moriondo in Turin in 1884, (also the home of Caffè Vergnano and 2 years after we were founded–a coincidence?), Italians have led if not 'invented' the way the world consumes its most famous beverage, from terminology, to the process it's prepared, to the method with which it is consumed.
While the global exportation of our Italian coffee culture has greatly benefited the recognition of our native coffee quality, there are many mischaracterizations which we simply cannot control, including the size differentials quite popular in America (the Grande, Venti), which would never be seen in an authentic Italian coffee shop. The heavily milked-up, sugary and Americanized coffee concoctions would be met with mirth if found in our caffès in Rome or Milan.
Here we set to correct the coffee myths, and reaffirm the true rules of our authentic Italian coffee culture.
It is a Daily Ritual
In Italy, the ritual of coffee defines each day. Milk IS in fact permitted with Italian coffee consumption, but only before 11am. And milk is never served with coffee after a meal. The breakfast ritual may include a Cappuccino, equal parts espresso and steamed milk, a Caffè latte which is espresso with more steamed milk and less foam, or a Latte macchiato, steamed milk with a splash of espresso.
Be careful how you order your caffè in Italy, however. Order a latte, and you’ll receive a cup with milk which is exactly what you ordered. And be sure to drink it in the caffè. Yes, Italians can drink their espresso shot quickly, but a 'to-go' cup is the sure sign of a tourist.
There is an Art of Espresso
Coffee is indeed seen as a community activity. It's over coffee that Italians discuss their politics, their family dramas and career achievements. And many Italians not only have their one select coffee bar that they frequent daily, they have their preferred barista that creates their perfetto espresso. Yes, in Italy the barista is indeed a highly respected career.
Maintaining a Tradition of Simplicity
Italian art of coffee embraces simplicity, though there are a few accepted regionalisms that break from this trend. In Naples, for example, their is the Caffè alla Nocciola, espresso flavored with hazelnut, and travel to Milan and you'll find the local favorite Marocchino, what can be described as an upside-down cappuccino–cocoa powder first lines the cup, which is then topped with steamed milk, then finished off with a shot of espresso.
If you want to step in line and drink your coffee in an accepted way, stick with tradition. The Caffè Americano is that watered down-espresso most similar to the American brewed coffee. The Macchiato is espresso 'stained' with frothed milk, the Ristretto is a strong espresso with less water, and a Corretto is an espresso 'corrected' with a shot of alcohol, a drink generally served after work or in the morning to 'correct' that unfortunate hangover. Order one of these and you will certainly get a pass of approval from your Italian barista.
Italian coffee culture is one that we wear with pride, and one that extends beyond borders, into nearly every cup that's poured and brewed throughout the world each day. Feel free to make your cup your own, though as any Italian would recommend, make it a quality cup with quality beans and an appropriate grind, and be sure to savor each sip. Saluti!