Italians and coffee an everlasting tradition

Italy is the country of coffee and coffee drinkers. This is a fact. About 97% of Italians drink coffee, but

contrarily to common perception, Italy is not the top consumer of coffee in the world. According to  research, Finland, Norway, and Iceland are the first three countries that consume coffee more than anybody else on the planet.

Italy covers the 13th position followed by Slovenia and Brazil.

Coffee in Italy

What it’s different though it’s the way we drink our coffee. Yes, Italians are very fussy about their caffe’. Italians have a particular way to drink coffee, it is a proper ritual as to how it is made, where and what time of the day. It is a pleasure of life, it is related to warmth, well-being, friendliness. If an Italian offers you a caffe’, it means they really like you and enjoy your company so don’t turn it down! The morning does not start well unless there is an espresso maker on the hob and the aroma pervades the whole house. It really awakens your senses and gets you ready for the day.

When there is no time to get the coffee ready at home then people head to the bar.

When Italians ask for coffee they mean expresso, although there are many versions of how this can be done. It is more than just a cup of coffee. Coffee is a cultural tradition which according to some research, has got its baggage in the genetics of Italian people. We have it in our DNA, so to speak.

The caffe’ is consumed first thing in the morning for breakfast at the bar and then again around mid-morning with colleagues or friends. People never sit down for an expresso or a cappuccino, they order while standing, drink it, have a chat with a colleague or a friend and go. If you are looking to sit down, then the cost will be slightly higher for the cover.

While standing at the bar, people will chat with the barista about their day: “Un caffe’ per favore” they will ask the Barista, who will have no doubt they are asking for an expresso. There are people who will ask for a decaffeinated coffee, in Italy they just call it “un deca” or a caffe’ hag. Hag is a very popular brand of decaffeinated coffee. Cappuccino or any other coffee item is only consumed at breakfast or mid-morning. These are never ordered alongside a meal but just on their own or with a croissant or pastry of some kind and only in the morning!

Espresso is also consumed after a lunch or a dinner as a digestive to finish off the meal on a high note.

The Barista will know you are not Italian depending on how you order your coffee and what time of the day. So, if you order a cappuccino after lunch or dinner it is against the rules so to speak, although they will be happy to make it for you.

Coffee styles

There are many kinds of coffees in Italy, and they only come in one size, no small, medium or grande:

Caffe’ doppio (doble shot of espresso)

Caffe’ macchiato (caffe’ with a drop of milk)

Caffe’ ristretto

Caffe’ lungo

Latte macchiato (a glass of milk with a drop of coffee)

Espresso con schiuma o senza (with froth or without)

Espresso con panna (with cream)

Caffe’ corretto (with liqueur) usually ordered after a big meal as it contains alcohol like Sambuca (Elderflower) Bayleys, Rum or a digestive like Fernet Branca.

This is the list of common versions of coffee and I am probably missing some!

Pros and Cons of coffee

Coffee has both benefits and side effects, so let’s explore them!

Coffee has properties that can benefit your health, some of these are:

  • Weight management
  • Heart disease
  • Energy boost
  • Reduced risk of cancer and diabetes
  • Boost against depression
  • Increase longevity

The recommended amount is not more than 2-5 cups a day as anything more than that can cause issues to your health and trigger some side effects such as:

  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Digestion
  • High blood pressure
  • Increased heart rate
  • Fatigue

Apart from the pros and cons, Italians will always be the best coffee lovers in the world. We love coffee too much to get put off by a list of side effects. Some Italians also get decaffeinated coffee to still get the aroma without the cons.

If you go to Italy, you will now know how to order your caffe’ and what time of the day.

Buon caffe’!



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