We all know Italians love their coffee but I was surprised to find out that we (Brits) actually drink far more coffee than our Italian Friends. In fact, generally speaking, they only drink 2, maybe 3 at most a day. The preferred coffee of choice in Puglia, is of course, the espresso. So it’s no wonder they only have a couple! The tiny, super charged caffeine drink would keep you awake for a week if you drank too much!
Now, what really bewilders me is the number of coffee bars each town has. They’re in aboundance and are always buzzing with people coming and going. I tried counting them once and it was like counting sheep, I soon last track and gave up!
So, owning and running a bar is big business, and many are open almost 24 hours a day, especially in the summer. I only realised this when I was on route to the airport to catch a stupidly early flight. At 5am the town was a hive of activity, farmers and builders were milling around, grabbing a quick coffee and a brioche before starting work.
Occasionally I see guys in bars about 10:30 – 11:00, having a shot of Sambuca or Grappa in their coffee or even a cold beer. But then I guess when your working day starts at the crack of sparrows, it seems more like midday, which (in my book) is a perfectly acceptable time to have a drink, right?
Coffee bars are the real hub of the town, it’s the place to grab a quick drink, snack, chat with your friends, catch up with the local gossip and put the world to rights!
My favourite Puglian coffee has to be an espessino; a shot of espresso, topped with hot frothy milk, with the optional to have cocoa powder sprinkled on top (I always opt for cocoa!). In the North of Italy this is referred to as a Marocchino, if you ask for an espressino they will look at you blankly!
Sometimes, as a foreigner, ordering a coffee in Puglia isn’t quite as straightforward as you might think. If like me, you like to take your time over a cuppa and fancy a ‘regular’ coffee i.e coffee, hot water and milk (aka an Americano), many places think you want a double shot of coffee (2 espressos), topped off with hot water! Well, this would certainly keep you going for the rest of the day! So, in order to get the perfect ‘Americano’, I have trained the staff at the bars I frequent in my town, and now I can enjoy a ‘regular’ coffee which I can savour at my leisure and watch the world go by. Some Italians refer to my ‘coffee’ as ‘Zuppa di Caffè’, coffee soup! Because, compared to the tiny espresso cups, my coffee cup represents a bowl used for serving soup!
So, what other coffee options are there?
Italian coffee menu may include:
Caffè: Literally means “coffee” which in Italy is an espresso shot. It will be from 20 to 25 millilitres of strong black coffee.
Caffè Doppio: “Double Coffee” a double shot of espresso.
Caffè Ristretto: It is the opposite of the “Doppio”, it’s a super concentrated espresso with less water, approx 20 millilitres of coffee.
Caffè Macchiato Caldo: Espresso with a dash of hot milk.
Caffè Macchiato Freddo: The same as above, but with cold milk.
Caffè Decaffeinato: Decaffeinated espresso.
Caffè Corretto: Espresso with a dash of alcohol, usually Sambuca or Grappa.
Cappuccino: An iconic Italian coffee, prepared with an espresso shot and hot frothy milk, which sometimes artistically decorated. The Italian cappuccino was unknown until the 1930s, and seems to be born out of Viennese-style cafés in Trieste and other cities in the former Austria in the first decades of the 20th Century. Italians do not drink cappuccino after midday, it’s a breakfast beverage and is usually accompanied with a brioche or biscuits. This incidently is a typical “prima colazione” breakfast!
Caffèlatte: This is another breakfast drink, similiar to a cappuccino but served in a bigger cup.
Cappuccino Chiaro: Literally a light cappuccino, with less espresso.
Cappuccino Scuro: Literally dark cappuccino, with a bigger shot of espresso.
Caffè d’Orzo: Literally barley coffee. It’s an espresso-style drink, prepared from roasted barley and is widely. It is considered to be an alternative to decaffinated coffee.
Latte Macchiato: Hot milk with a dash of espresso (macchiato means “spotted”).
Caffè Americano: Espresso topped with hot water (usually a double shot of espresso, so becareful!).
Caffè lungo: A “long” coffee, i.e. with more water. It’s different than an americano because the difference actually happens at the espresso machine: when the espresso is actually being pulled, the process is slowed down so there’s twice as much water involved.
Caffè Shakerato: Cold shaken coffee usually served in a cocktail glass.
Caffè Marocchino (AKA Espressino): Created in Alessandria, traditionally served in a small glass and consists of a shot of espresso, cocoa powder and frothy milk. In some regions of northern Italy, thick hot cocoa is added. The name Marocchino (Italian for Moroccan) is derived from its colour, as marocchino was a type of light brown leather used in the 1930s to make hair bands.
Caffè Salentino (AKA Caffè con ghiaccio): Espresso freshly prepared or pre-prepared and kept in a freezer, served over ice. Originated in the Salento region of Puglia.
Caffè con Panna: which means “espresso with cream” in Italian, is a single or double shot of espresso topped with whipped cream.
Caffè Freddo (AKA Caffè Creama): Perfect way to cooldown in the summer. It’s kind of an ice-cream milkshake served from a temperature controlled rotating machine, either premixed with espresso or an espresso shot is added when served (main featured picture above).
Caffè al Ginseng: Coffee flavoured with ginseng, one of the 11 species of slow-growing perennial plants with fleshy roots.
(Coffee menu based on an article written by Stile Italiano.)