Being a business city, Milan can sometimes be overlooked as a tourist destination. We see most Aussies and Kiwis travelling to Milan in September (coinciding with Fashion Week), and they discover it’s a cultural gem – home to Leonardo da Vinci’s Last Supper, one of the best soccer teams in the world and a buzzing international fashion scene, this northern Italian city has something for everyone. It even has a cafe for everyone – but first, a word of warning. The Milanese take their coffee very seriously and have a whole set of ordering and drinking rituals that might seem perplexing to an outsider. To save face, it’s worth taking a quick crash course in coffee etiquette with our tips below.
Italians like their coffee simple and straight up – especially after breakfast when a cappuccino, latte or any milk-based coffee is considered a no-no.
If you fancy something a little unusual, order the region’s speciality – marocchino. An upside-down cappuccino, it is served in a small glass that is sprinkled with cocoa powder, before a layer of frothed milk is added followed by a shot of espresso. For a punch, caffè corretto is an espresso ‘corrected’ with brandy or grappa, and caffè freddo (iced espresso) is refreshing on a hot day.
Traditionally, Italians see their morning coffee as a pick-me-up and not something to linger over. And, as drinking coffee while standing at the bar is usually much cheaper than sitting down, the whole affair is usually over in 30 seconds flat.
Forget soup bowls masquerading as mugs. Coffee is taken short – even a doppio espresso (double espresso, or long black) can prove to be too big a proposition for many Milanese.