Do not sit down to drink your coffee: Lets be honest, coffee is a drug and who needs to sit down for a daily injection of caffeine in their blood system? We are in Italy and the bar is not Starbucks and no you cannot sit here for free for the next 2 hours.
No need to order an espresso: Un caffé per favore is all you need to say.
In fact, no fancy coffee allowed: keep it simple and certainly do not try ordering a white chocolate mocha frappuccino, that’s like asking for a single malt whisky with olives and a cocktail umbrella in an Irish pub.
Do not order cappuccino after 11.00 a.m.: Baristas have been known to split their beautifully fitted tailored shirts rolling in laughter when a tourist does this. I am still uncertain of the rationale behind this but I suspect that the highly evolved (and as such delicate) italian digestive system has something to do with this.
If you need some milk in your coffee and it is past noon you are safe to order a caffé macchiato: this baby cappuccino literally means ‘stained’ coffee as it has been stained with a splash of milk. You will be asked if you prefer hot or cold milk, congratulations if you can taste the difference.
You don’t go to a café to take your coffee, you go to the bar: No all Italians are not alcoholics unless….
You are in the mountains/ski resorts and you ask for a caffé the barista will look at you twice and say ‘liscio?’ which literally means ‘straight’ i.e. no additives, no liquor….are you joking??
Which leads me to a caffé corretto: this literally means a ‘corrected coffee’, with the liquor of your choice. Normally this is grappa, brandy or sambuca and can be served with a shot glass on the side or with a few drops added to your coffee cup depending on the crazed look in your eyes or the generosity of your barista.
Finally once we’ve enjoyed our coffee we have to ask for lo scontrino and pay, or should i have paid first?!: This is where it gets a little confusing as payment systems vary. Generally in small local places you can order, consume, order a second pastry (or is that just me?) and then pay once you’re satisfied and refueled. At the larger bars you need to: queue, order, pay, get a ticket, order a second time (in a different queue), now wave your ticket frantically in the air in front of a second barista who will actually give you your coffee. Hurrah!
Anyone have any other Italian coffee survival tips for this caffeine addict? Let me know in the comments!