One of my favourite pastimes is to spend time with friends sipping coffee – al fresco because at that time ‘the world can wait for a while!’ Yes, an opportunity to ‘just be’, whilst the world continues to race on at full speed!
Coffee is an integral part of the Italian culture, a cappuccino with a friend, an espresso with a business partner or an opportunity to multitask with laptop at fingertips. But do you know the etiquette around the ritual of drinking coffee in Italy? For instance, it is a myth to think that Italians sit around drinking café lattes all day long (apologies for stereotypes!). Did you know that cappuccino, café latte and any type of coffee with milk is only ordered before lunch, and is sure to sort the tourist from the authentic! From ‘espresso’ to the delicate and romantic names for every little accompanying pastry, Italians can certainly make things sound romantic; ‘Biscotto di nocciole’ is a rather nicer way to say ‘hazelnut biscuit’!
Despite the romantic language, it is very important that the coffee itself should be kept simple – so best forget about double chocolate chip Frappuccino with mocha syrup and hazelnut drizzle! When the coffee bean first arrived in Italy via the ports of Venice from the Islamic East in the late 16th Century, the drink was very much the talk of everywhere despite being a simple affair and prohibitively expensive. By the 18th-century the coffee houses and culture we recognise today became much more common, and coffee more affordable for everyone.
As it is continuing to trend worldwide, coffee culture is not limited to the going out experience! Why not recreate café culture at home; invite some friends, source your favourite coffee, and try a few interesting Italian biscuits or cake. Perhaps a ‘torta al cioccolato’ or two. If you really want to create the right ambience why not add a touch of vintage with an authentic coffee set – made from beautifully finished enamel with a Moroccan, Venetian influence.
Be sure to make your coffee using a cafetiere or espresso maker, the coffee pot is perfect for keeping your coffee warm on the stove and use the milk jug to gently heat the milk in the traditional way. So bring a bit of Italian into your life this summer and take time out to enjoy coffee with friends.