It’s been too long, coffee lovers! It’s been a crazy summer, I’ve been doing some weird excursions like graduating from college and getting a job…insanity.
But the best adventures have been the ones involving – you guessed it – coffee.
My favorite liquid substance.
Most of the time.
The biggest and best adventure of the summer was, without a doubt, my trip to Italy. My fiance and I went to stay with my uncle in the ancient monastery that he’s remodeled into a bed and breakfast in the mountains of Tuscany.
I know, right? You can’t write this stuff.
This is the unbelievably beautiful monastery we stayed in for FREE while celebrating my great-aunt’s 75th birthday. There was so much wine and so many amazing stories, plus a crazy old French woman who smokes illegal substances with grill lighters, but those are stories for another blog.
What REALLY blew my mind, and I’m sure you can all believe it, were the Italian cappuccinos. Obviously, cappuccinos were invented in Italy and are defined as “an Italian coffee drink”. So, naturally, their cappuccino game was on point.
Cappuccinos in Italy are like their own food group, their own meal, their own snack. The cappuccino is respected and adored. As it should be.
This is me (hi!) sitting on my uncle’s patio (I guess that’s the American version of what this was) and drinking my morning cappuccino, made by his own personal cappuccino maker. There was no coffee makers in Italian homes and hotels. No Mr. Coffee. No Keurig. Cappuccino makers only, sorry.
For anyone who may not know, cappuccinos are prepared with espresso, hot milk, and steamed milk foam. The name derives from the Capuchin friars who originally drank cappuccinos in the 17th century, referring to the brown color of their habits that mimic the coffee’s color.
Cappuccinos are served in Italian restaurants in 5-6 oz. cups, HALF the size of a traditional American 12 oz. cup of coffee (and that’s our small…) The little cups take you by surprise! They’re so tiny and cute and you can’t help but think, “Is this going to be enough?”
Well, if the fact that you drink at least 4 or 5 of them a day doesn’t do it, the fact that cappuccinos are practically PURE espresso will reassure you that yes, it will be enough.
The hot milk (and when Italian’s mean hot, they MEAN hot – caution drinking right away!) and steamed milk foam give a creaminess to the drink that helps to offset the extremely harsh, strong taste of the espresso.
While sugar in American coffee is often frowned upon (flavored creamers, ya’ll), sugar packets are ALWAYS given with espressos; those little guys have some serious punch to them and sugar is needed. At least for a wimp like me.
But my favorite thing about the cappuccinos in Italy were how ingrained they are into Italian culture. There were coffee shops on every corner of even the smallest town my fiance and I visited, and it was perfectly acceptable to stop and just take a cappuccino break. It so perfectly reflects the relaxed European attitude; sitting at a table in the middle of the work day just to drink a cappuccino, smoke a cigarette and look around nonchalantly.
In fact, when Dan (my fiance) and I arrived in Venice for our first day, we were determined not to look touristy…but we were incredibly lost and overwhelmed. What did we do? Casually went into a coffee shop, ordered two cappuccinos, relaxed and made a game plan so when we emerged we 100% knew what we were doing.
It worked. We were mistaken for Venetians more than once. Coffee saves the day!
Honestly, we passed as Italians because one of the only phrases we knew was the one we used the most frequently: “due cappuccini, per favore”, or “two cappuccinos, please”. We knew this little phrase by heart and it immediately broke down language barriers for us left and right.
Coffee is truly like a universal language, and Italians speak it fluently.