A Guide to Italian Coffee – Forget the Frappuccino

In the United States, Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts serve drinks containing caramel, syrups and even cookies. Italians would regard these concoctions as breakfast or dessert. In Italy, coffee is synonymous with espresso. From the Piedmont to Sicily, if you request a coffee you will be presented with an espresso. Sugar is optional, but it will generally be only one teaspoon. Some will add a spoonful of milk foam. This is called a macchiato, not to be confused with the similarly named bucket of milk and caramel that you will find in Starbucks.

Others will take their coffee long, adding warm water to the espresso, the Americano. For the morning hours there is the option of a cappuccino (an espresso with steamed milk poured in then topped with foam). It is important to note that the cappuccino is a breakfast beverage. To consume it after dinner is almost sinful! In the south of Italy, during the warmer months, an ice cube may be added to an espresso. Or more precisely, an espresso can be poured over an ice cube but it is never blended with peppermint and cookies. In the north of Italy, coffee is sometimes “corrected” with liquor – il caffé corretto. The preferred choice is usually grappa, but it varies between regions. Other popular options include Sambuca, brandy or cognac. If you see someone in Italy topping anything involving milk froth with chocolate powder they are probably tourists. Any finally, don’t let the Italian sounding name confuse you. In Italy, the Frappuccino is not an option.

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