Your Guide to Italian Coffee

Prendiamo un Caffè! Let's get a coffee!

It's incredible to think about the millions of conversations that have surrounded a cup of coffee!

The life-changing ideas and choices that have taken place around a freshly brewed espresso, the good news shared over morning coffees, the quality time spent sipping on a cup of decaf in the evening with loved ones...every cup of coffee is filled with little memorable moments.  

With so many choices of coffee, there's a roast and brew method for everyone! With the infinite amount of options, from cold brews to caramel macchiatos to luxurious cups of espresso, it's no wonder that over 1.4 billion cups of coffee are enjoyed every day! (according to the International Coffee Organization) 

Italy has perfected the art of coffee, particularly the art of espresso. Enjoyed as a quick stop on the way to work or in the afternoon while taking in the fresh breeze; there's nothing like an Italian coffee!

Check out Tesori's collection of handmade Italian Espresso Cups & Saucers.

The Arrival of Coffee in Europe 

Coffee first traveled to Europe through the ports of Venice during the 17th century. The coffee arrived from Egypt, primarily thanks to Prospero Alpini publishing his book on his discoveries of medical uses of coffee in Cairo. 

Quickly after arriving in Venice, coffee shifted from being used only for medicine to cups of being enjoyed in cafes all across Italy. 

In fact, shortly after the discovery of coffee in Venice, there were over 200 coffee shops! With 23 of them in St. Mark's Square, the city had to limit the number of cafès that were allowed to open.

Another social issue arose when the coffee shops tried to prevent the gathering of women due to public decency concerns.

The local senate passed a law that prevented women from gathering at the shops, the only exception being the time of year when masks were worn.

However, this law did little to stop the women from enjoying their cups of coffee, and many ignored the rules. Such a wonderful example of the strength Italian women have always possessed!


History of Espresso in Italy

Although the drinking of coffee in Italy began long before the Industrial Revolution, this is the time when espresso truly began its journey to perfection.

The basic method of espresso involves pushing hot water through tightly packed ground coffee beans, which results in a richer and more complex flavor.

This method was rumored to have been inspired by a businessman's desire to shorten his worker's coffee breaks but quickly spread due to the fantastic taste it created. 

The invention of the actual espresso machine gained traction as Luigi Bezzara registered a patent for a machine with group heads, which connect the boiling water to the coffee, and portafilters, which hold the ground espresso.

Purchasing the patent in 1905, Desidero Pavoni created the first commercial espresso machine named the Ideale. Although espresso machines today bear little resemblance to the Ideale, cafès wouldn't be what they are today without Pavoni's improvements.  

Espresso machines quickly started popping up in coffee houses all over Italy and became not only a spot to sit back and sip on your espresso but also a quick stop for workers looking for a caffeine boost.

During the 1930s and 1940s, advancements made to the espresso machines by Francsico Illy and Achille Gaggia led to the creation of the famous espresso foam called crema. And in 1938, the term 'barista' became favored over 'barman' and furthered espresso's tie with Italian culture. 

Ordering your Coffee the Italian Way

One unique aspect of Italian coffee is its ability not to be influenced by other cultures' coffee while simultaneously having a significant influence on global coffee culture.

Walking into coffee shops across Europe and North America, you'll likely run into a menu filled with Italian options. With so many ways to order, it can be a little overwhelming to find exactly the right way to ask for your coffee.

Check out our guide to the most popular Italian coffees:

Espresso or Caffè: This is 3oz of espresso, preferably served in a porcelain or ceramic cup. Check out this breathtaking Raffaellesco Espresso Cup & Saucer from Tesori!

Doppio: Looking for a smaller caffeine boost? The doppio is a 2oz espresso that's perfect for you!

Cappuccino: With a 1:1 ratio of espresso and steamed milk, a cappuccino is a perfect balance of rich and creamy. Enjoyed at any time of day in most parts of the world, cappuccino's are only ordered before noon in Italy!

Ristretto: A more concentrated drink using less water, ristrettos are typically taken as shots at the bar by those on their way to work. 

Lungo or Americano: Both meaning diluted espresso, or espresso with twice as much water, the name Americano was coined to poke fun at America's sometimes diluted coffee creations. However, this a perfect way to get more delicious espresso, so we approve!

Macchiato: A steamy cup of espresso with a small splash of milk, typically ordered with flavor add-ons in America. 

Caffè Corretto: The perfect way to end dinner? An espresso that is enhanced with a little liquor!

Cafè Sospeso- Meaning suspended coffee, is ordering a coffee for a stranger to enjoy. Originating in Naples, ordering caffè sospeso's is a great way to brighten someone's day!

No matter how you choose to drink your coffee, make sure you pause to take in the moment.

Smell the rich roast, feel the smooth cup around your hand, and let yourself enjoy the experience. After all, there's nothing like that first sip of coffee in the morning!