Ristretto, long coffee, short coffee, in glass, cappuccino, macchiato, you name it.
Entering a bar in Italy, for a foreigner, and witnessing the ordering of coffee, is the most amazing and autochthonous thing he or she will ever see.
In Italy, ordering coffee is a real custom.
For us Italians, ordering coffee is not simply ordering a good coffee, but ordering your own coffee, made to order. The sublimation of one’s desires and tastes, the ultimate in tailor-made pleasure, all reduced to a steaming cup to be ordered at the bar.
Espresso drinking in Italy is not simply a habit, but a tradition of almost sartorial attention that the barista has towards his customers, from the loyal ones to the patrons, in preparing the best coffee for them, making the experience a small moment of pure paradise in the daily grind.
Every Italian knows what to order at the bar counter
It is no coincidence that Italian customers do their best to express their appreciation of coffees, baristas and bars in reviews, sometimes producing compendia or guides that can reveal to foreigners the lesser-known places where they can appreciate the tastiest coffee made in Italy.
Among the choices that Italians make most when they find themselves in front of a professional coffee machine are ristretto, caffè lungo, caffè corto and cappuccino.
The most traditional is ristretto coffee
Ristretto coffee is an espresso (from the traditional expression of coffee made with manual extraction at the bar counter, hence ‘espresso’), and therefore the result of passing water at a high pressure and temperature through the ground coffee. This delicious beverage with its organoleptic properties is obtained in its perfect dose by letting it extract for twenty-five seconds, resulting in thirty millilitres.
Long coffee is for prolonging the pleasure
Then we have long coffee, which as perhaps few people know actually contains more caffeine than ristretto. It is also one of the most difficult coffees to prepare, as many people are unaware of the correct method to prepare this tasty variant. Long coffee cannot be prepared simply by increasing the extraction time of the espresso machine, because by prolonging this time the drink releases substances that are not easy to digest. In addition, this gives the drink a bitter taste. The correct way to prepare it is to serve the same amount of ristretto in a larger cup, with the option of adding hot or cold water, depending on taste.
Then there is short coffee, which is nothing more than a disambiguation error. Short coffee is nothing more than ristretto coffee, simply called by another name. This could be a definition taken from abroad, as the predominant variant there is long coffee.
Cappuccino, on the other hand, is more suitable for breakfast
Finally, there is the cappuccino, which in some regions of Italy even beats coffee as a favourite breakfast drink. Especially now that there are many milk variants that cater for those with dairy intolerance, making the drink enjoyable even if it is not made with the proverbial fresh milk that should be used traditionally.
The secret of this drink lies in the whipping of the milk, which must be heated for about thirty seconds until it reaches a temperature of thirty-seven degrees when it is poured into the cup. Real professionals are careful to plunge the nozzle into the centre of the milk to obtain a perfect foam without bubbles.
One could actually make a to-do-list for the foreigner to fit in.
1.Inform yourself about what you are ordering
To drink espresso like in Italy, the first place is undoubtedly to understand what you are ordering. Underestimating what is on offer is perceived as a cultural downgrade, whereas embracing it is the first step to discovering this country.
2. The more you know, the more you are satisfied
Italian espresso coffee is culture, the more you know about it, the more you will discover what you like best. What’s more, Italians, like no other people, love talking about food and wine, so it’s definitely a topic of conversation that never leaves you alone at the bar.
3. Always ask for your coffee
In Italian culture, you don’t order just any coffee, you always order your favourite version of coffee. Therefore, it should be experienced as a service that is offered to us and that should be exploited by personalising it as much as possible, to give it real meaning. Otherwise it comes close to the culture of fast food, of fast food for everyone, whereas here it is more of a tailor-made culture.
4. Drink it standing up and quickly
Coffee in Italy is to be taken ‘on the fly’. It’s almost a stolen break, a moment of real precious escape from everyday life. So the tradition is to take it at the bar, standing up and drinking it quickly. There is another reason why it is traditionally consumed this way, namely that if you order a coffee at the table, on the way between the bar and the customer, the delicious cream that forms on the surface may disappear, which disappears shortly after it is taken out of the coffee machine into the cup.
5. Cappuccino and macchiato are early risers
Being milk-based drinks, these two variants are more suitable for the morning, and indeed if a foreigner were to order them after eleven in the morning, other patrons of the bar might look at them doubtfully.
Drink espresso like in Italy, even at home
Taking the time for a coffee is a real custom of the Italian lifestyle, a rhythm that marks the days and gives small, scattered moments of pleasure. However, it is possible to enjoy it not only at the bar, but also at home, thanks to Pontevecchio lever machines, handcrafted and unique in every piece, which recover the tradition of hand extraction that offers the real coffee in a workmanlike manner.
You can discover our models on our website, choosing also among colour variants, to have in your home not only a solid and performing machine, but also a pleasant furnishing element.