Italy is proud home of many things that date back to Ancient Roman times and even more to the dawn of time: Spaghetti and all sort of different types of pasta – we invented pasta!, Pizza! – we invented it and by far Italian pizza is the BEST in the world (sorry America, that NY style and Chicago style pizzas don’t come even close!), Chicken noodle soup – we not only invented it, it’s recorded in our ancient history as a medicinal wonder predating Christianity, Coffee – even though we don’t produce one grain of coffee in Italy, we do however have perfected the roasting process and the balanced blend of the right coffee varieties creating the best coffee in the world.
Every region in Italy has its own traditions unique to the area, and just because that tradition applies there it might not apply anywhere else or even be known anywhere else. The feast of the seven fish, for example, is not an Italian tradition but a Sicilian one unique to the region, most of Italy, especially the north, has never heard of to this day nor celebrates, despite US media.
So when it comes to coffee, how you order coffee in Rome or Sicily might not work in Venice or Milan. Most blogs and websites would advice you if you happen to be around Italy and in need of a pick-me-up, you should ask for an espresso or a macchiato (even though we have two types of macchiatos which seem to escape most bloggers) and only order a cappuccino for breakfast – or else! And as universal that might seem, it just doesn’t work everywhere in Italy.
Trieste and its unique ways to order coffee
Trieste, as the most beautiful city in modern time Italy, once part of the Austrian-Hungarian Empire and one of the oldest Ancient Roman regions, it’s quite unique not only in its history, culture and traditions, but its customs, and ordering coffee is as unusual, as the city itself.
– nero – If you want to order the classical espresso in Trieste you would ask for a nero instead which is served in the classical small espresso ceramic cup.
– nero in B – The classical espresso as above but served in a small glass. The “B” stands for bicchierino (small glass). The “bicchierino” holds a higher volume of liquid, suitable for other varieties as you will soon find out and/or more of the black infusion.
– goccia or gocciato – The classical espresso with a drop of frothed hot milk in the center served in a small ceramic cup. Goccia in Italian means drop. Do not confuse this one with the “capo” below as they are not the same!
– goccia or gocciato in B – Like the one above served in a small glass.
– macchiato – The classical espresso macchiato freddo, which is nothing more than an espresso with a drop of cold milk in the center served in a small ceramic cup. We at Trieste assume when the barista receives an order for a macchiato the person is asking for the cold macchiato (macchiato freddo) while the goccia would be the equivalent of the hot, known in other parts as the macchiato caldo or simply macchiato. Depending on the bar or coffee shop you’re ordering from, a mini jug with cold milk is provided for you to add milk to your taste.
– capo – Or Cappuccino Triestino (capo stands for cappuccino) is the classical espresso with about a finger of hot frothed milk on top served in a small espresso ceramic cup. This is NOT the typical cappuccino Italiano many are used to that’s so famous in the world, the tall cappuccino with lots of frothy milk you would have for breakfast at the hotel. If you order a cappuccino in Trieste unless you specify what you really want and the barista has worked in a hotel or another tourist area or figures you’re a tourist, you will be served a small espresso size ceramic cup with an espresso and hot frothed milk on top. It’s strong and delicious.
– capo in B – Or Cappuccino Triestino, like the capo above served in a small glass.
– capo in B tanta – This is like the one above, but has less espresso and more hot frothed milk, served in a small glass.
– deca – A decaffeinated espresso coffee served in a small ceramic cup.
– deca in B – As above served in a small glass.
– capo deca – Is a decaffeinated capo served in a small ceramic cup.
– capo deca in B – As above served in a small glass.
– caffè llatte – If instead what you really want is a tall cappuccino Italiano high in milk like the one you would have for breakfast at a hotel or any other tourist area, ask for a caffellatte.
Contrary to many other places in Italy, in Trieste you won’t be looked at like a weirdo for asking for a caffellatte mid day. In fact it’s quite normal to order a caffellatte while watching the beautiful sunset over the sea at Piazza Unità with friends.
Where to drink coffee in Italy
In Italy you would buy a coffee at the bar that serves alcoholic beverages, the ice cream shop, coffee shop and even at the trattoria. We are not intolerant at allowing children at the bar for a ciocollata while we drink our afternoon nero.
You won’t find a disposable cup at the coffee shop
Don’t even ask for a disposable cup to take your coffee with you. That’s an insult! For us Italians, a coffee break is just that, a coffee break. Instead sit down and relax for a minute or two or if you’re in a hurry, stand at the bar and drink your nero or capo in a few gulps from a glass or espresso cup and continue with your journey.
Although we’re the largest consumers of coffee in the world, we do not require 20 oz of coffee to go. Just the perfect quick punch of caffeine to energize us is enough to keep us going.
In that sense when it comes to coffee, we Italians not only are much more sociable than our western friends in the US, as drinking an afternoon coffee for us can be a social event, but much more ecological as well as we drink from reusable cups.
Perhaps Starbucks could learn from us, and instead require customers to bring their reusable cups next time?… or better yet, sit down, sip a nero and slow down for a bit.