Cappuccino in Tuscany

Coffee time in Italy? Here's a quick guide

A guide to Italian coffee culture

No matter where you go you'll always find coffee: italians can't live without it. Whether you're visiting a small town or a major city you'll always find a bar around the corner. In Italy any time is good for "un buon caffè" and the favourite kind is without doubt the espresso: 25 ml of water that flows through 7 g of freshly grinded coffee in 25 seconds, at a pressure of 9 bars.

I recently took a coffee lesson at Moka J Enne and I really enjoyed learning about the whole coffee process, from the field to my cup. As you may know, the flavour of coffee depends on various factors, such as the type of coffee and how it's roasted. Italian coffee is normally a mix of robusta and arabica varieties. However, coffee in northern Italy and France is roasted for longer and is therefore more bitter than its North American counterpart.

If you're not accustomed you're bound to think that Italian coffee is too strong or too thick. So, be ready, take note of these few tips and enjoy your Italian coffee experience:

"Un Caffè" is an espresso: only 25 ml of water. A perfect one has an even brown cream on top and must be ready in less than 30 seconds.

An espresso [Photo taken at Leon Blanc Pasticceria, Firenze]
An espresso [Photo taken at Leon Blanc Pasticceria, Firenze]

"Caffè Americano": a shot of espresso with hot water poured into it. In fact, often they’ll just serve the espresso in a larger cup with a pot of water.

"Caffè lungo" is obtained by draining more water than usual. A long coffee, although it is less dense, contains more caffeine than an espresso. The long coffee is regarded as normal coffee in the United States and in central and northern Europe. So, if you want to have extra caffeine, ask for "an americano".

Cappuccino [Photo taken at Leon Blanc Pasticceria, Firenze]
Cappuccino [Photo taken at Leon Blanc Pasticceria, Firenze]

"Cappuccino": is an Italian coffee drink that is traditionally prepared with espresso, hot milk and steamed-milk foam in a big cup. Cappuccino is a breakfast drink, so if you order a cappuccino after 12 m, people will frown at you (don't worry, they'll still serve you).

Cappuccini decorated with chocolate [Photo taken at Leon Blanc Pasticceria, Firenze]
Cappuccini decorated with chocolate [Photo taken at Leon Blanc Pasticceria, Firenze]

"Caffè macchiato": in Italian macchia means stain, so “un caffè macchiato” is an espresso with a “stain” of milk.

"Latte macchiato": a big cup of milk with a “stain” of coffee.

Caffè macchiato [Photo taken at Leon Blanc Pasticceria, Firenze]
Caffè macchiato [Photo taken at Leon Blanc Pasticceria, Firenze]

"Marocchino": an espresso with a “stain” of milk and cocoa.

Caffè marocchino (
Caffè marocchino ("Monte Bianco" version) [Photo taken at Leon Blanc Pasticceria, Firenze]

In the summertime you can ask for a "caffè shakerato": a shot of espresso, lightly sweetened and shaken with ice.

Making caffè shakerato [ Photo taken at Leon Blanc Pasticceria, Firenze]
Making caffè shakerato [ Photo taken at Leon Blanc Pasticceria, Firenze]

In the words of Joyce Falcone of The Italian Concierge: “You pay before or after but it depends”.Sometimes you need to pay before, then present the receipt to the barista; but sometimes you can enjoy your coffee at the bar and tell the cashier what you had. "The only way to know for sure is to watch the other customers".

Making coffee at Coffe lessons (Moka J Enne)
Making coffee at Coffe lessons (Moka J Enne)

If you visit Pistoia and you're interested in becoming an expert in coffee and cappuccino I really recommend that you take a coffee lesson at Moka J Enne.  

Cover image credit: Flavia Cori

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