For many people coffee is all about routine and I am no exception to this rule. I started drinking coffee at the age of fifteen and since then, there hasn’t been morning without a steaming cup on the go. At least 16 ounces to get my morning rolling. Five years later and I can’t live without it. I knew I would have to find a way to satisfy my addiction abroad so adjusting to coffee culture here in Italy was one of my first culture shocks.
The first adjustment (besides the obvious language barrier) was that the word “un caffè” would get me a shot of strong espresso that I was expected to sip at the bar despite its appalling flavor. “Un caffe lungo” or “americano” would get me looks of horror from the barista and then a large cup of espresso with boiled water added; still not close to the Dunkin’ Donuts fix I needed. Getting my order down was only the first of my problems.
My next task was figuring out how to navigate the café, aptly named “bar” in Italy. I walked in, looking for a line to wait for my turn to order a coffee. In Italy I found myself sidled up to a bar with no real order at all to the “ordering processes”. Prices varied based on whether I drank my coffee standing or sitting, “take away” or at the bar. I still spend time frantically trying to make eye contact with a barista and trying to hand my money to whoever would take it.
While there are still many subtleties of Italian coffee culture I don’t understand, and navigating the “bar” is still a work in progress, I am very content with my twice daily “caffellatte”.
By Mackenzie Bofinger and Hannah Bertozzi (UConn)