Stand Up and Smell the Coffee

This photo was taken in the local cafe that we visit daily for breakfast. A macchiato is served in the evening as opposed to our morning cappuccino.  

    Coffee has become a staple in various countries. We rely on caffeine to get us through our day, but the way in which we consume it varies drastically. Of course, in America people like their coffee with vanilla or soy milk, maybe a dash of cinnamon, but that is not what I’m talking about 
    The Italians are specific about their coffee and take pride in the quality. No Italian orders a grande iced coffee with caramel or a java chip Frappuccino. Extra-large coffees with extra cream are not an option, they are just the perfect way to tell the barista you’re from America. So how do you avoid sounding like the typical American who can’t give up their American coffee order? In Italy, people drink their coffee in a specific order depending on the time of day. Choose from a small menu of specialized drinks, six to be exact. You can select from Espresso, Macchiato, Caffe’ Latte, Americano, Cappuccino, and Espresso con panna. Never order a coffee with a dairy product to go along with a meal. Italians consider these drinks as more of a snack or a midday pick-me-up. Cappuccinos and Caffe’ Lattes should be ordered in the morning or before two o’clock in the afternoon. Espresso is a perfect drink for the evening and even though it is smaller, it is the perfect addition to dessert.

A group of students learn about the rules of coffee in Italy during the food tour. They get to taste a macchiato to get an idea of what the Italian coffee scene has to offer. 

    You receive approximately 1.5 oz. of espresso which contains little caffeine. So, there is not a concern about being unable to sleep or coffee bothering your stomach. Many American food and drinks are treated with chemicals for the purpose of preservation, but true Italians believe in organic fresh materials. Feeling jittery after a cappuccino in Italy is a red flag that the coffee beans were treated.
    The biggest difference between the Italian coffee culture is not about the drinks themselves or the time. As Americans we enjoy a large cup of coffee in the morning at our kitchen table or if we are lucky on our front porch. We enjoy taking our time to drink our coffee. In Italy coffee is ordered and consumed at the bar. A service charge will be added to sit at a table to take your time, but this doesn’t mean the Italians are in a rush. The Italians love to take their time with meals. At lunch and dinner, checks must be asked for because it is very common that people stay for hours to enjoy many courses over conversation. Breakfast is just a little different.
    While I enjoy sitting down and enjoying a large cup of coffee, the Italian coffee culture is enjoyable in a completely different way. Watching the barista craft your drink shows the quality they pride themselves in. There is an intimate feeling about standing at the bar, drinking the coffee just made specifically for you, and eating a fresh pastry. It is something that can’t be experienced in the States, so stand up, drink your coffee, and do as the Romans do.

Sarah Sharpe

Sarah Sharpe

Sarah is a junior Visual Communications major in the Journalism School at the University of South Carolina.

Michaela Mixon

Michaela Mixon

Cover Photo: Michaela is a senior Mass Communications major in the Journalism School at the University of South Carolina.

Emma Valenti

Emma Valenti

Secondary Photo: Emma is a junior Journalism major in the Journalism School at the University of South Carolina.