I knew that the Italians liked their coffee (so do the French) but I hadn’t realised how anchored it was in their culture.
Waking up in Bergamo, my plan was to find a nice terrace to have my breakfast. I found this nice café and went in. It had what I wanted: croissants, coffee and fresh orange juice. Perfect! So I stood at the bar counter, where a few other people were standing, to place my order. The “coffee man” came to me and I started ordering. He rapidly stopped me and called someone else to look after me. Basically, he was the “coffee man” and was only serving coffee to the hurried businessmen standing at the counter. I then noticed that some people were getting in, taking their shot of espresso and leaving; it didn’t take them more than a few minutes. I actually got used to it and in the next couple of days I often happened to go to a coffee counter and have my shot before I kept going on with my day.
I work in restaurant, so I’m quite familiar with the various Italian coffees: the espresso, the macchiato, the cappuccino and the latte. However, what I wanted was none of these. I wanted a coffee with milk, a white coffee, un créme; longer than the espresso, more milky than the macchiato, less frothy than the cappuccino and less milky than the latte. I tried to explained with my mix of English, French and Spanish and the server seemed to understand me; yet, I ended up with an espresso with a small jug of milk. Let me tell you, it wasn’t easy to dip my croissant in it!