But Nespresso coffee capsules have recently found their way into Italian homes, so people no longer have occasion to irritate me with the way they make coffee. What a relief!
Not long after I arrived in Italy I went into a coffee bar with some workmates I was tagging along with, who ordered the usual “Espresso thanks”, but one of them ordered her coffee using a word I had never heard before.
“Marocchino for me”
The marocchino she was served looked like a very stylish drink. And the woman herself who ordered the drink looked stylish too. Gazing at her marocchino, I decided “OK. I’m going to order a marocchino next time.”
“Marocchino” means “Moroccan style” but that doesn’t mean the drink is Moroccan style because it came from Morocco. It looks like a mini cappuccino. It’s usually served in a glass demitasse with chocolate syrup, cocoa, espresso coffee and foamy milk in distinct layers. The espresso would be too bitter for Japanese tastes, but the chocolate syrup and foamed milk give it a mild flavor, so I took a strong liking to marocchinos, for the way they look and taste. I really fell for them for a while.
But did I go back to espressos after getting bored with marocchinos? No. Not at all. I found out that there is a hidden coffee menu in Italian coffee bars. With the coffee boom arriving in Japan I am amazed sometimes to read how cafés there have recently been putting all sorts of coffees on their menus. But in Italy, the coffee menus you usually see in shops only list the simple, mainstream coffee options.
But, if you watch really carefully, you’ll see that the baristas cater to their customers’ finely detailed orders. It’s really impressive. With the huge variation in orders, you wouldn’t get a job as a barista if you didn’t have good memory would you!
When Italians go to a coffee bar together with their friends, you could get as many as 10 or more different types of coffee being ordered at the counter. Oftentimes the baristas take the order, serve, and take the payment all by themselves.
“Espresso for me.”
“I’ll have a macchiato.” (Espresso with a dash of milk)
“Can I have a macchiato too, but could you make it hot milk.”
“I’ll get a ristretto.” (A smaller quantity of coffee than an espresso, just the first part of the extraction)
“Ah, cappuccino for me too! But with ground cinnamon thanks.”
“Cappuccino too. But I’ll have cocoa.”
“Latte macchiato” (Hot milk in a glass with espresso added)
“Barley coffee for her and me. But I’ll have a small cup and she’ll have a big cup.”
“I’ll get a crema caffè (cold milk coffee with a cream consistency) with hazelnut cream. She’ll have a caffè shakerato (cold coffee shaken in a cocktail shaker).
And the variations go on and on…