The Italian coffee tradition over the centuries has become a system of rituals and behaviors about coffee and its most famous preparations: moka coffee, espresso and cappuccino.
Welcome to the country that gave the world its language for coffee. Espresso, cappuccino, macchiato are all Italian words!
In Italy, coffee is more than a beverage. Here, cafe (the bar itself) and caffè (coffee) culture is a daily ritual, the meeting place of any village or neighborhood, a mainstay of daily life.
For Italians, coffee is an indispensable daily ritual, it is a passion written in their DNA.
In Italy you can order coffee in many ways: caffè (a single shot of espresso in a tiny ceramic cup), ristretto, corto, lungo, doppio, al vetro (a single shot of espresso in a small glass cup), in tazza grande (two shots of espresso in a larger ceramic cup), decaffeinato (a single shot of decaffeinated espresso), macchiato (a single shot of espresso in a small cup with just a spot of cream), marocchino (a layering of cocoa powder, one shot of espresso, cocoa powder again and foamed milk, then powder with cocoa in a small al vetro cup), americano (espresso topped with hot water, served in a larger ceramic cup, similar to American-style coffee, but tastier), corretto con liquore (one shot of espresso “corrected” with a spot of liquor, usually grappa, sambuca or brandy)…
The varieties continue with all of the various regional coffees.
Indeed, in the world of Italian espresso, variations in color, aroma, taste and quantity in the cup differ by city.
And in the summer? In summertime, Italy is blessed by the sun.
The whole period that goes from June to early September is definitely the best time to enjoy the il bel Paese, sunshine, culture, delicious food and the pleasures of la dolce vita and the Italian lifestyle. Coffee included.
But when the summer gets hot, is the desire to drink a coffee stronger or is there an intolerance towards the scorching temperatures?
When summer gets hot, coffee gets cold!
Let’s experience some of the most popular Italian summer coffees:
Some people say “summer days in Italy should start with a shakerato”.
Caffè shakerato is certainly a great summer classic as it is the most common way to prepare a cold coffee drink at the bar.
Double shot of espresso, ice and sugar (preferably liquid), shaken vigorously in cocktail shaker and poured into a nice Martini glass.
Then there are those who add flavored syrups such as vanilla or those who prefer a liqueur-based fix for an alcoholic version.
The result is a fresh drink made up of two inviting layers, one of coffee and the other of foamy and compact foam… mouth-watering!
Caffè con ghiaccio
kafˈfɛ ˈkkon ˈɡjattʃo
It was born in Salento and from there it conquered Italy.
Preparation is simple and quick: prepare a hot espresso, sweeten it (preferably with liquid sugar) and then pour it into a glass filled with ice.
It can be ordered smooth or adding almond milk, as they do in Lecce (caffè leccese).
In any case, the rule is: drink quickly, before the ice melts too much.
Granita al caffè
ɡraˈnita al kafˈfɛ
Most bars, especially in southern Italy, have machines that constantly crush and mix ice with anything from juices, to milk and coffee, ready to be served to customers.
The original recipe calls for the coffee to be mixed with a syrup of water and sugar which is then placed in a container and placed in a freezer. It should then be stirred about every half hour to prevent it from solidifying and after two hours it is ready to be served.
Nowadays we can order it everywhere but we find the most delicious version in Sicily where it is served for breakfast with whipped cream on top or in the middle of a maritozzo or a Sicilian brioscia.
Caffé del Nonno (coffee cream)
kafˈfe ˈddel ˈnɔnno
In Italy anything that has the “del nonno” in the name is usually sweeter and more nourishing than the normal recipe.
It translates to “of the grandfather” and is used in many recipes, both food and drinks, meaning a variation of the basic recipe for the elderly.
Regarding coffee, “del nonno” is a shaken coffee with sugar and generous amounts of cream. Shake it all until perfectly mixed and let it cool down in the fridge for at least one hour.
It is served with a biscuit on or in it with multiple toppings including perennial favorites, whipped cream and cocoa powder.
It has a massive amount of variations throughout Italy so be open to being served a quite different drink too.
Even if the crema, the experience and the speed of the espresso (with all its variations) is irresistibly the first choice for an Italian, one cannot face the torrid Mediterranean summer without a myriad of options to squelch the heat. To ensure that the espresso is not “too hot to handle” and stay caffeinated, it doesn’t take much to cool off with the cold variations of Italian summer coffees.
The essential? The right coffee!