Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Il Caffe'...Coffee a Way of Life

Coffee is the life blood of Naples. You drink it in a cappuccino for breakfast and you drink it black about a dozen times thereafter. While in Italy, I've had coffee as late as 10PM, later if it was a weekend or a holiday. I've had friends that were on their way to work invite me for coffee, knowing perfectly that they'd be late to work if they walked into a bar. By the way, bar in Italy are establishments where you normally consume coffee, snack, pastries and such. They do carry alcohol, but it's not customary for people to binge drink at a bar. That's usually done at the dinner table with a little vino rosso (red wine). Neapolitans prefer their coffee in an espresso machine. Unlike what we are used to here, espresso machines are not electrical or mechanical, as matter of fact they are simple metal devices that use heat to boil water and filter through the coffee. The coffee preferred by Neapolitans is by far caffe' Kimbo, a Brasilian coffee. If you ever have espresso, you will notice that it is creamy, very rich and guaranteed to wake you up!

(Photo courtesy of Bialetti)

You will also find that the only variations of coffee drinks in Naples and Italy for that matter are:
Caffe' doppio: Double shot
Caffe' Coretto: Coffee' with a little extra (usually Baileys of some other form of Whiskey)
Caffe' Latte: Coffee with a splash of milk
Latte e Caffe': Warm milk with a splash of coffee
Caffe' con la Panna: Coffee with a squirt of whipped cream
Cappuccino: Steamed milk with one shot of espresso a lots of milk foam on top

As you can see, all the options we now find in U.S. coffee shop are not the norm in Italy.

Espresso cups are very small, they are the equivalent of shot glasses. As a matter of fact, I've seen shot glasses used as coffee cups on several occasions in Italy. 

Like I mentioned before, coffee is a way of life. The minute you walk out your house, you go out to coffee, especially if you have company. If you are shopping and you stop by a bar, you automatically have to go in and get coffee. Usually, the person whose gets the idea to get coffee buys, unless they are younger than you, like your nephew, son, grandchild, student, etc.  If someone visits you at work or at home, you make them coffee. If you visit someone, they make you coffee and you'd better drink it! I've had people feeling very offended because I wouldn't drink the coffee, I soon obliged. I guess it's a good thing I like it.


  1. I love coffee, dark and strong. I need to go to Naples someday!!!

  2. Sometimes you can find Italian espresso makers at stores like Ross or TJ Maxx. You can also find Italian dark roast coffee online. This way you can have Neapolitan coffee in the states. Although I would still recommend visiting Naples someday, it's beautiful and the authentic pizza is to die for :)