Tag Archives: coffee

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]


I Wish I Had Thought of That, Rome Coffee Style

15 Aug

You know how people say that dumb quote, “I wish I had thought of that!” I mean, dumb because it’s just sort of banal. Like, der. Of course you wish. Because if you had thought of Post-it notes you wouldn’t be standing here saying you wish you had thought of it. I dunno. It’s sort of a “who’s on first” type of thing for me. I mean, how long can you really take it? It’s like verbal Chinese water torture.

Here’s the thing. One day I’m going to be in a store, and I just know I’m going to see this thing that I have in my mind, and I won’t be able to say “I wish I had thought of that,” because you see, I ALREADY HAVE. I’ve thought of it not once, not twice, not even three times a lady. (MUUUHAHAHAHA betcha can’t get that one out of your head now, for like, ever. You can thank me later.)

Oh really? You think you can escape the sheer euphoria and rapture that this ballad can produce? Especially when accompanied by silver spangles and a show hosted by a man named Burt Sugarman? Oh no you don’t! Get back here, you! Click the little triangle, go on. You know you want to.

Sorry. I do that sometimes. It’s all in good fun. Lionel Richie has absolutely nothing to do with coffee. But I do loveaaaohawove you. I do, I do!

Ok, I’m just going to lay it all on the line here, folks. I need a Bialetti Moka Alarm.

Raise your hand if you get this. I know Sara does, because she and I have talked about it before if I’m not mistaken. We’ve had entire conversations about it. I’m pretty sure back in 2006 she even had a blog post on it.

For those of you who don’t know what I am alluding to, I’ll throw you a bone. The Bialetti Moka, as you may or may not know, is our traditional stovetop coffee maker here in Italy. If you’re like me, you may have thought it was just for decoration, but no. They actually use it. Like, all the time. It’s truly a staple of the Italian household.

Now. I adore my morning Moka as much as the next gal. But my life is a shit show. That means, I don’t have time to watch paint dry on my walls nor watch coffee slowly rise and percolate to the upper chamber of my Moka (wow that sounds strangely erotic. Let’s not follow that any further. I am still boyfriendless.)

The Moka is relatively silent when it finishes. It just makes a sort of low sputtering noise. But if you stray too far from the general vicinity of the Moka, trust me: you’re not going to hear the spittle to alert you that your coffee is ready.

Please see Exhibit 1:

Kindly ignore the corkscrew on the left. I don’t drink wine until at least 10 am.

Anyone who has ever spent any reasonable amount of time with a Moka knows that this is going to happen sooner or later. The overflow. The God-awful spitting and sputtering coffee all over your stovetop overflow. GAH!

I hate the overflow. I really do. It makes my coffee burnt, for one (like how I slyly shrug off any responsibility there?), it makes a holy mess, for two, and, it’s just plain frickin’ annoying.

That’s why I need the Bialetti Moka Alarm. You attach it to the top of the thing, and it whistles like a tea kettle when the coffee is ready. This is what I need.

I mean, people, let’s be honest here. They (a.k.a. “the powers that be”) invented an anti-splutter valve, right? And yet, yet! Think about the sheer USELESSNESS of said device. There’s a frickin’ TOP on the Moka. I don’t know about y’all, but as far as I’m concerned, the top pretty much protects me from any wanton splutters.

Exhibit Two, Useless Coffee Devices:

The only redeeming factor in this waste of aluminum is that it is called either “paraschizzi” or “paraspruzzi” and those are just super fun words to say.


Therein lies the proverbial rub.

Hence, the alarm.

Discuss. Plan. Create. I will be your first customer.