Thursday, 20 February 2014

Weirdness: green tea lattes

The whole coffee culture is still a myth to me after having lived for four years in Italy. A few years ago I learned that a "coffee latte" is a "latte macchiato", the translation meaning "spotted milk"; hot milk with a spot of coffee - makes sense. A "caffè macchiato" though is a "spotted coffee" whereas "coffee" here means espresso, not your German, American or Canadian Tim Horton's filter coffee. We conclude: "caffè macchiato" is an espresso coffee with a spot of milk. 

You need to specify here though if you want your "caffè macchiato" "caldo" or "freddo", "warm" or "cold". You can also ask for "senza schiuma", "without "foam" or you can ask for the milk on the side rather than poured onto the coffee. 

Once you understand the ordering process, it doesn't end here. For example, when I wanted to order coffee in Trieste a few months ago, which is only about an hour car drive away from where zu live, they did not understand me. In order to get a "decaf espresso with a bit of milk" (that was what I wanted) I should have asked for a "capo deca" - kind of like a decaffeinated mini cappuccino. Though some people would add here "capo deca in b" where "b" stands for "bicchiere"; "glass" instead of coffee in a cup. I have yet to see a what I consider "real cappuccino" in Trieste, I am sure you can get it somehow, but let's not go there. Ordering coffee in Trieste seems to be difficult even for Italians.

What I really wanted to say today is that I find it astonishing that Italians make all this fuss about how to order your coffee and when to drink it. The first rule I mentioned here before is that Italians never, and I mean never, drink cappuccino any other time during the day than in the morning. They just don't do it. And most of them think I am weird - and give me that look of "really?!" - when I order green tea with some milk on the side to make my "green tea latte" in the afternoon? I would say: everyone as they wish. 

Maybe Starbucks is still not present in Italy (!) because they are intimidated and are afraid to not keep up with all the coffee rules in this country. I would for sure love a "skim milk salted caramel hot chocolate no cream" from Starbucks once in a while. Ordering in front of the green-aproned staff members seems like a walk in the park after having lived in Italy. Trust me.

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