Italian Coffee Culture


Elite member
Reaction score
Ethnic group
These are two fun articles from "The Local"; nice pictures too. I think many tourists sort of know all this, but maybe not, considering some of the tourist comments I've read.

As for not ordering cappuccino after noon, it depends if you're the kind of tourist who wants to show cultural awareness or one who figures hey, if it's on the menu and they're serving it at this time, I'll order it. They know I'm a tourist anyway.

I think option 2 is perfectly ok. I never could stop my own kids from ordering it in the afternoon.

I suppose I should also mention that I don't fit the stereotype; I find espresso really bitter. I drink it for a pick me up in Italy not infrequently since there's two cafes per block and so it's easy, or to be sociable, but I don't really love the taste, not even with a ton of sugar. Plus, I metabolize it really slowly, so I can't drink it after about 2PM or I'll be up all night. If you're the same, don't trust restaurant staff; if the decaf pot is empty, a good number of wait staff people will just give you the regular. Trust me; I know these things. :)

In terms of caffeine, it's actually got less caffeine than "American" coffee, believe it or not, which goes some way toward explaining why Italians can drink so many cups a day and not wind up in the psych ward.

In terms of total amount of coffee consumed I actually think I recall reading that northern European people drink more of it, probably because the cups hold so much more of it, or maybe because they metabolize it more quickly.
I'm absolutely shocked that cofee served in italy (or anywhere else in Europe) is less potent than the kind served here!

And lucky you, being able to metabolize caffeine slowly is such a luxury! I crash and burn after about 2-3 hours
I should have explained more clearly.

"One 2 oz double espresso shot has about 80 milligrams of caffeine.Whereas a 12 oz brewed coffee has about 120 milligrams.
So actually there is more caffeine in an average cup of drip coffee than in espresso. But, that doesn’t seem like a fair comparison given the difference in volume.
Let’s examine caffeine concentration per ounce.
A single shot of espresso has an estimated 40 mg per ounce whereas a brewed cup only has around 10 mg in each ounce. By concentration we see espresso having more caffeine. The difference in the serving size is where the discrepancy lies; less caffeine in espresso from a beverage perspective."

Slow metabolizing coffee means that it stays in your system longer, i.e. you feel the effects for longer.

Fast metabolizers get rid of the caffeine very quickly. As a result it doesn't interfere with their sleep even if they take it late at night.

I had a "Study Buddy" in graduate school who consumed coffee (American coffee) as if it were water. If we were putting in an eight hour stint in the library he'd suggest going to get a coffee five or six times. I'd go along and have it too. I started getting heart palpitations, what seemed like panic attacks, could barely sleep a couple of hours a night. I'd never been anxious about school in that way, so I went to the doctor to find out what the heck was wrong with me. The first question he asked me was, "How much coffee are you drinking?" What didn't affect my friend at all was playing havoc with me. I switched to decaf and all was well. :)
Well ok drinking an "American" coffee would turn on the lights more so than just having a small little shot of espresso simply due to the raw amount of coffee in an "American" cup being high enough to allow that.

Angela, getting 5 to 6 cups of coffee within an 8 hr period is pretty hard core so I'm not sure if I would place the blame on a slow (caffeine) metabolism. I'm pretty sure most people would react the way you did.
I agree. However, I can't have even a cup of American coffee after dinner or I won't sleep well. That's slow caffeine metabolism. There's a snp for it at 23andme.

He hasn't changed at all by the way. When he's over for dinner he'll drink three or four cups of coffee at 10PM and still sleep like a baby. It's not human! :)
Oh ok given that then yeah your body certainly is slow when it comes to breaking down caffeine.

Your experience with the panic attacks and heart palpitations reminds me of when I was 22 and decided one hot morning in July to go out for breakfast at a diner. I don't remember exactly what I ordered to eat, but it was more than likely a stack of pancakes and I totally abused the maple syrup. I wasn't a coffee drinker but ordered one small glass. When finished and billed, I stood up and came close to passing out! I was barely able to pay at the cashier and just about made it to my car and right when i got in I was anticipating death! My adrenal glands kicked in overtime!to my surprise I made it back home alive and spent the rest of the day with my hair sticking out and my heart racing

Ever since then I've never had the same reaction to coffee.
In Britain, American coffee has a poor reputation compared to any coffee in Europe.

Personally, I avoid Starbucks like the plague.
In Britain, American coffee has a poor reputation compared to any coffee in Europe.

Personally, I avoid Starbucks like the plague.

Starbucks coffee smells like rubber set on fire
On a good day.

Costa Coffee and Caffe Nero are the good coffee chains here.
American coffee is hot water with a bit of coffee. it is tasteless.

we call american coffee , mud in does not exist anymore here

We have local products or imported, like

Lavazza - torino
Segafredo - verona
Ducale - napoli
ille - trieste
to name but a few

locals are
and many many others

also, many starbucks have closed down in Australia
American coffee is hot water with a bit of coffee. it is tasteless.

America has the most developed coffee culture in this planet. The variety of coffees is immense. American coffee is fantastic morning treat. Its the only coffee that matches perfect with sweet or salted foods. Espresso on the other hand goes well with alcohol or as a finish after food. The amount of caffeine in American coffee is also higher than espresso. (single) I am surprised why has not American coffee getting any traction in Europe. Coffee is a huge business and the amount of research on coffee beans in USA as might expected is also huge. The products they introduce in the market are amazing. The hardest thing about the American coffee is the number of choice one have. If you live in USA for a while you will give up on espresso the same way I did.
Based on Angela's post the amount of caffeine in espresso is much higher. If you fill a coffee mug with espresso and drink it all down in one sitting, you're going to go insane.
we call american coffee , mud in does not exist anymore here

We have local products or imported, like

Lavazza - torino
Segafredo - verona
Ducale - napoli
ille - trieste
to name but a few

locals are
and many many others

also, many starbucks have closed down in Australia


we have Starbucks at Piraeus Athens and Thessaloniki,
JUST FOR THE TOURISTS, who can not drink Greek coffee.

the most light coffee, but it is trouble to make it is the one called Greek or Turkish or 'domestic'

Espresso is imported from Italy and Germany and Brazil
Lavazza illy Segafredo from Italy
but we do not drink neither espresso neither capucino,
we change it to the local Fredo espresso which is tottaly different from the Italian one,
a kind LUNGO put on shaker for air with big hard rocks of ice,
a kind of frappe -espresso

Espresso is also produced in Greece by hundrends of local coffee makers
as also instant coffee,
Nescafe lately has imported coffee from a baltic country to drop the price and fall 15% at market.
instant Nescafe of Greece is considered the best of the multinational corporation coffee, due to the maker

I was teenager when I first travel to Italy and first time see people at Milano to make a break to stand 3 minutes at a coffee bar to drink a teaspoonfull (ristretto) of liquid caffeine, and move away
and shocked me that time. cultural shock.

well Italians manage to make good coffee machines for coffee bars,
and took the old traditional way to make coffee from East and went ahead at coffee,
sometimes we are looking for, what kind of machine has the espresso seller, than what trade mark coffee he has.

Anyway I like Italian illy, it fits good with my flavour demands.
and I hate espresso Romano,
lately Macchiato with a bit of cocoa or hazelnuts is very popular.

but altough Italian espresso is good and i enjoy it,
it is very diuretic for me, in 1/2 an hour i must visit WC :grin:

if you come to Greece you will find more than 500 coffee work out producers,
only at my town we have 8, an more than 15 at area.

Coffee is something that must be drunk as much near in time as it is produced,
either loses a lot of aromas and blends,
you can conserve coffee beans for a long time,
but you can not conserve roasted coffee beans for long,
and surelly almost near zero time after it had been cut to powder,
that is why we have so many coffee work out producers,

to open a poke that arrived a month the max from Kenya or Brazil
mix Arabica and Robusta at the demand %
roast it with dry air as hell or as black you want, (hell has extras than caffeine, like atropine atc)
and grind it to consume it,
only the flavours are enough, no need to have extra caffeine

to make good coffee from powder,
never shake mix or ruffle,
put cold water, and above the cofffee powder,
as water gets warmer, coffee is filtered slowly and perfect, do not mix
and after the demanding needed time coffee trush deposit at bottom as sediment.
do not drink the sediment, and avoid to enter when served to cup,
Italian machines do the filtering quite good, and the trush is out at the filter.

the rest are just crap of industry.

roasting coffee on a heat plate and with dry air


colours of coffee according kind, temperature, etc
Black hell/gold(ξανθος) red/brown

coffee break must be around a quarter of hour, and also have a glass of water and a cookie or bisquit, or a cake, or a loukoumi, or a pettitfour tope,(no salt added for coffee + salt = hard to blood pressure) or a sweat for the stomach and diuretic abilities.
enjoy your coffee, we are not caffeine maniac freaks.

Coffee with out its own rich coffee cream above, is not coffee, it is charlatanism.
Last edited:
American coffee is hot water with a bit of coffee. it is tasteless.

That if you buy coffee in Starbucks. There are many places in USA that can make the best coffee. They have an Italian community too, if you like Italian coffee.

PS Italian made coffee machines have good reputation in our part of the world.
Love how everyone is after Starbucks! I never understood the hype! The smell of that garbage is nauseating and it tastes like a dodge ball.

I drink mine black but that's only to avoid watering down the potency of the caffeine; then again I won't hesitate to add cream on top of Greek coffee. It's potency will still be more than sufficient.

In fact, that little experience at the restaurant may have been my own personal intro to Greek coffee or espresso. Never reacted that way ever again to coffee or any other stimulating drink. even back in undergrad when I would occasionally drink red bulls.
Funny video...Caffeine-The Greatest Addiction Ever:

Your Brain On Caffeine:

Basically, coffee is a stimulant, so it increases mental alertness. It also blocks dopamine receptors, so dopamine circulates for longer, and so it makes you "happier". A judicious amount of it also is apparently good for your heart.

At home, people make coffee this way, in a Moka pot, which isn't technically espresso, as the Chef explains. For that you need those extraordinarily expensive machines which produce a lot of steam. I've had my pot for years...I even take it on camping trips. (You can get one for thirty dollars here.) Growing up my mother would add hot milk to this for me in the mornings, along with a generous amount of sugar. People also add Italian bread to a bowl of mixed espresso and hot milk. I use Illy, even though it's usually more expensive, mainly because I think it's slightly less bitter. Unfortunately, it's harder to get the actual beans so you can grind it fresh yourself.

I got one of the "pod" type coffee makers as a present, the Bosch one, but rarely use it, despite its speed and convenience. The espresso isn't as good as what comes out of my old Moka, and I have no interest in "specialty", artificially flavored coffees. Before that it was a Braun drip coffee maker. Like the pod coffee maker it didn't produce "hot" American style coffee, which, as I add milk, means it comes out lukewarm. Plus, in neither case did the finished product wind up having much coffee taste. If I'm going to drink "American" coffee, the only way I like it is brewed in an old fashioned percolator pot. I don't see very many in housewares sections of stores anymore, and it's increasingly difficult to find the grinds, but I like it, so I buy beans and grind it myself, which is better anyway. The coffee "experts" say it is more bitter because the water boils, but I think it tastes more like "coffee". That might be because I grew up on espresso, I don't know. Fwiw, people have told me they've bought the Bonavita drip coffee maker and they like it.

Oh, for those trying to limit their exposure to plastic, another thing to consider is that neither the Moka nor the percolator pot contain any, unlike the drip coffee and pod coffee makers.

As for Starbucks, not all Americans like it or can afford it. As to "liking" it, I know a lot of Americans think it's too "strong". The "down market" brand is usually Dunkin Donuts coffee, which I absolutely hate and cannot under any circumstances drink, while I don't think a Starbucks "cappuccino" is undrinkable, even if it's not great, but hey, each to their own. I don't know what goes on in the back of American "diners", usually, in my area, owned by Greek-Americans, but the coffee is usually pretty good.

Davef:Based on Angela's post the amount of caffeine in espresso is much higher. If you fill a coffee mug with espresso and drink it all down in one sitting, you're going to go insane.

Yes, but Italians don't drink it like that. Think of it this way: if an American has five cups of coffee a day, he consumes 600 mg. of caffeine; if an Italian has five cups of espresso a day he consumes 400 mg. of it, which is quite a bit less.

So, Italians are taking jolts of a more intensely flavored caffeine "purveyor", but the total caffeine intake is less per hit and per day.

As I'm thinking it through, it occurs to me that perhaps we need less of it, or can tolerate less of it? The biggest consumers of coffee, like the biggest consumers of alcohol, are northern Europeans, with few exceptions. The order is Finland, Norway, Netherlands, Slovenia, Austria, Serbia, Denmark, Germany, Belgium, Brazil. Neither Italy nor France make the top ten. Why would that be? Coffee is a stimulant and a mood enhancer. Do northerners need more of that? Are they faster metabolizers, on average, of caffeine? Might it have something to do with climate? If it's a really hot day I'm normally not in the mood for a lot of hot coffee. I don't know, but it's interesting.
I love coffee from dunkin! Tastes the best!

The coffee from those pod machines (you're referring to kureg?) doesn't seem all that potent, is there a trick to make it "stronger"?
Yes, pod as in Keurig. I just have a Tassimo-Bosch machine instead of a Keurig. The reviews at the time said it produced better coffee, but it's less convenient; Keurig pods can be bought in any supermarket, but the Gevalia ones used by the Bosch machine aren't available everywhere. In both cases many of the pods are full of artificial flavors, although they offer "straight" coffee. It's a more expensive way to drink coffee, especially if you're making it for multiple people, of course. The only way I can think of to make it stronger would be if you add a pod of espresso to a "regular" pod of coffee. Just use a big mug. :) However, as you're a Dunkin Donuts drinker I doubt you'd like the intense flavor imparted by the espresso.

You can see a comparison here between the Nespresso and the Bosch unit I have. After watching it, I'd say that for my own use I probably would have preferred the Nespresso plus milk frother, but the rest of my family would never go to that trouble. They really like the Bosch unit, principally because they're not as fussy as I am. :) They also make "regular" American coffee with it, which can't be done with Nespresso.

I think I read that one in four American households has a pod type machine. If Italian coffee makers want to compete they're going to have to get into this market, unfortunately, I think, because as I said a lot of the flavors are artificial, and it's also less environmentally sound because those pods are filling up all the landfills.
Thanks! Wonder why people are buying keurig machines when the coffee is so weak, can't they notice a difference? I did! When I was waiting for my car inspection last year there was a coffee pot with the filter thing on top (the old fashioned kind) in the waiting room and drinking that totally got me going.

Strangely, caffeine does oftentimes induce relaxation for me at least. I think I read that its due to a dopamine deficiency...makes sense with me at least since it does play a part in regulating mood and attention.

This thread has been viewed 15036 times.