Mt. Carmel St. Cristina Society

Beyond the Cup of Coffee

Remember when a cup of coffee was just that? With all the many varieties of coffee made popular in the United States by Starbucks and the other coffee bars, we can thank Italians who have taken pride in making distinctive coffee drinks since the early 1700s. In the early twentieth century when the "machina a vapore", elaborate steam espresso machine that you now find all over the world, was invented in Naples. Italians patronize their favorite espresso bars each morning on the way to work for their quick fix. They like their coffee much stronger than Americans.

The word espresso refers to the manner in which the coffee is made: steaming hot water is pressed through a small amount of tightly packed coffee beans with a result of a concentrated syrupy liquid. True afficionados like their coffee "ristretto" meaning they only want the coffee espressed from a single pull of the steam lever and they swallowed in one gulp like a shot of whiskey. Other people take regular or doppio or even coffee lungo. Then we have the other extreme. There are those who like their coffee "corretto" with a shot of grappa or brandy! Now you add milk to the coffee, you have a whole other category called "cappuccino" - espresso with steamed milk.

So, in all, Italians drink over 9 billion cups of coffee annually, which is a lot of java no matter how you brew it!!

It is no wonder they are all so animated!!