American Takeaway Coffee in Italy: Finalmente

18 Mar


Or so the advertisement says, “Finalmente anche in Italia!” (Finally in Italy too!) as if people have been sitting around here in the amazing coffee capital of the known world going, “But if only I could get a takeaway American coffee in a paper cup, now that would really be something though…”

When I used to work with US study abroad students, many of whom were from southern California, I’d often hear a very heavy sigh of frustration followed by, “Ugh… I miss my Starbucks.”

At this point I was torn between two avenues of possible response:

1) Calmly but firmly educate aforementioned student about the fact that he or she was actually in the actual real like for reals country where Howard Schultz actually had such an epiphany over his amazing coffee that he was inspired to create Starbucks, and yet, strangely, the chain has never entered Italy because… ? (BTW great article by one of my favorite writers and honored to call friend, Stephan Faris, here: Grounds Zero: A Starbucks-Free Italy. *Hi Mr. F! Thanks for reading! ;-*)

2) Go totally ballistic.

3) Can’t do 2, because when I left study abroad in the mid-oughts (always wanted to use that word), it was becoming a very tidy US the-customer-is-always-right business model, in which I’d have 19 year old couples in my office complaining loudly about the fact that they weren’t allowed to share an apartment together and MYPARENTSPAYGOODMONEYFORTHISPROGRAM kind of B.S. so you know… yep, got out of that game.

And so, ever mindful of lurking #3 and university provosts calling me because their kid might not be able to get a takeaway coffee at a Roman espresso bar, I would helpfully and humbly write things on little post-its like “un cappuccino da portar via” and the students would go, “But is that big? Because, like, in the States, I get a venti.” That thar, folks, is TWENTY OUNCES of coffee, the equivalent of nearly 600 ml. Just as a point of comparison, I looked up how many ml make up an Italian cappuccino, and it’s 150 ml of cappuccino and an additional 50 ml or so of frothy foam. So, folks, an Italian cappuccino is right around 5 to 6 ounces of drink. Not even an entire cup which is 8 ounces. So basically if you ask an Italian barista for a god-forsaken VENTI, what you’re really requesting is 6 cappuccini in one cup. The mind boggles.

ANYHOO, far be it from me to criticize. Call me crazy, I don’t know, come to Rome, do as the Romans do, whatever…

But all this blabbering is really about the fact that I saw this ad yesterday in front of the Bulldog Inn Pub, on Corso Vittorio Emanuele. So, folks, honestly, if you need your American takeaway coffee, this company has you covered.

Still no Starbucks, though. Tough luck on that one. You’ll just have to content yourself with a 5-6 oz. cappuccino. [heavy sigh]


15 Responses to “American Takeaway Coffee in Italy: Finalmente”

  1. Barbara Giacometti March 18, 2014 at 11:18 am #

    Here comes Starbucks! Lol Getting ready to open a trainload of them in Major cities across Italy.
    I want to see the Italian that spends $5 euro for a cup of coffee, lol

  2. Shelley Ruelle March 18, 2014 at 11:21 am #

    Hi Barbara! Yeah, not gonna happen… they call it the “bibitone” the big drink. Actually there is something to be said for having a “third place” type of environment in Rome to go for wifi and hanging out, which is becoming more common but still isn’t that prevalent. But as far the coffee goes, I really don’t think a culture of “to go” coffee is ever going to spring up around here outside of the main tourist market. On their website that’s who they say they’re primarily targeting anyways.

  3. Beth March 18, 2014 at 12:34 pm #

    I was in Paris last week, Starbucks everywhere! But the French have a different attitude toward coffee and the bar/cafe. They hang out there and discuss and discuss and discuss while their coffee is almost American (as in tasteless). No Italian hangs around the bar to drink coffee and certainly not from a paper cup. Just what Rome needs is more paper litter. Clearly this product is not for Italian consumption.

  4. Emily March 18, 2014 at 1:04 pm #

    Whilst I despise the very idea of this, a small part of me does think that any sort of entrepreneurial spirit here should just be encouraged. I like to imagine that the owners of this venture really are like the three cool intrepid youngsters pictured on their website, and that if they can make a business and some money out of it selling a few crappy coffees to stupid tourists then maybe good luck to them. 🙂 The other part of me of course thinks “aaaaaagggggghhhhhhh”.

  5. Jean Noel March 18, 2014 at 2:46 pm #

    Why people cross the Antlantic to get a 5€ tasteless coffee in an Italian version of Starbucks is mind-boggling. Why they also come and get poisoned with artificial beef or chicken in Macdonaldo. For me it prooves that these great names are nor only junk food peddlers, but that they have secret ingredients that induce dependency.
    On the other side, opening one or two Starbucks could benefit all of us who can’t go to Feltrinelli anymore because of all the Americans who hog a table for hours withb their iPads on a cappucino. Another solution would be that Feltrinelli discontinue the wifi service thus freeing many tables for “normal” people who just want to come and grab a bite in a nice place after having purchased a book or a CD.

  6. Joan Schmelzle March 18, 2014 at 3:14 pm #

    Spare me! In Italy who needs it? On a Saturday evening I might briefly miss my Starbucks venti iced quad shot latte (half of which I save for Sunday), but then I remember that I AM in Italy and not at Barnes & Noble drinking the latte and planning my next trip to Italy!

  7. Janet McCarty March 18, 2014 at 7:16 pm #

    Sorella mia – I hear you about the coffee and the students.

  8. Stan Bozarth March 18, 2014 at 9:37 pm #

    I like to enjoy my caffe in a piazza…and watch the world go by, talk, laugh… Who needs more trashy paper cups spread around either? Thanks, but I’ll stick to tradition.

  9. Gil March 18, 2014 at 10:02 pm #

    Never got hooked on Starbucks, so I never missed it. I like strong coffee and was more than happy with Italian coffee. Was hooked on Diet Coke. Diet Coke in Italy tasted like crap. Got introduced to Ferrarelle (with gas) and never missed a beat.

  10. Andrea Troiani March 19, 2014 at 12:16 pm #

    Finally I can use my wheelbarrow to take a coffee!!!
    (well… I don’t drink coffee, just tea)

  11. Catherine March 19, 2014 at 12:22 pm #

    I think I had Starbucks once – in London and it was pouring. Imbevibile!! Left it there! Was reminded of pollution froth on Sydney Harbour.

    And who could drink that much cappuccino? Where is the pleasure in that??

  12. rossellaboriosi March 19, 2014 at 6:08 pm #

    No, no, no , no.
    Sono contraria.
    assolutamente NO!!!

  13. rossellaboriosi March 19, 2014 at 6:08 pm #


  14. steffan March 20, 2014 at 11:30 pm #

    … So basically if you ask an Italian barista for a god-forsaken VENTI, what you’re really requesting is 6 cappuccini in one cup…

    A Venti from starbucks only has 2 shots, so it’d only be 2 cappuccini (assuming they aren’t made doppio ristretto,) and then 15 oz of extremely hot milk.

  15. Gillian April 4, 2014 at 10:56 am #

    I have been seeing these all over town! I was watching a show on TV the other day and there was a lot of going and getting coffee for people, and all I could think was who wants to drink a cup of coffee that was made like 10 minutes ago. I guess there is no going back now.

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