It’s a Saturday morning and I’ve agreed to meet someone so they can show me their property for sale. We meet at the agreed point and I ask where the house is, to be told, “Coffee first then we work.” My contact gently places his hand in the small of my back gently steers me towards the nearest bar. We enter into the hub-bub of conversation and the hiss of coffee machines. He approaches the counter then turns to me to ask my preference. ‘’Caffè.” is my response. He looks at me quizzically and to make sure he gets the order correct asks, “Italian coffee, not a cappuccino?” (I guess the local population are used to the Brits wanting their coffee with milk.) “Senza zucchero.” I tell him, he smiles but looks at me suspiciously, I can read his mind – ‘Does this English man really want a thimbleful of strong black coffee without sugar?’
Italian bars are very different to the American style coffee shops where people languish over a huge mug of coffee, the Italian bar is busy in the morning with people on their way to work, they drop in and order a coffee and stand at the counter and drink it quickly and leave making space for the next person.
The barista places our coffees down on the counter and we’re mindful of the people waiting behind us to be served. The creamy surface of the coffee is stirred before it’s swallowed in one gulp followed by the water provided to cleanse the palate.
NB: Italian’s never order an espresso, it’s always Caffè. You can read more about Italian coffee culture in this article I wrote a few years back by clicking the link Coffee Culture