After arriving at the Leonardo Da Vinci Airport fresh off a sleepless eight-hour red eye, the first thoughts that my addled brain could muster were two words: need. coffee.
Everybody knows that airport concourses are roughly two-thirds coffee shops, with the other third comprising Hudson News Stands, Jamba Juices and shoe shiners. Stumbling across a café, my spirits lifted at the smell of divine coffee only to plummet when I discovered a stand-alone bar serving espresso in china that appeared to be the size of a thimble. Where were the cheerfully seasonal “to go” cups? Or my default super-girly venti-half-sweet-skim-vanilla-lattes? The cluster of animated Italians elbowing eachother at the bar looked nothing like the orderly “keep out of my personal space” line at the Ithaca Starbucks. Thoroughly defeated, I got a water out of a vending machine.
It has only taken me four weeks to become an Italian café snob. While I still miss my giant 20 oz. to go cup, there is something to be said about slowing down and spending 30 seconds at your little neighborhood café. Also, the coffee is so strong that just a few ounces keeps me caffeinated and happy for hours. Should you ever desire coffee in Italy, follow these unfailing tips from yours truly to obtain the perfect cup:
1. Go to the cashier first, and tell them what you want: an espresso, caffe macchiato, caffe latte… just remember that Italians will think you are silly if you order a cappuccino at any other time than early morning.
2. Take the receipt from the cashier and make your way to the bar. Do NOT spit your gum into the receipt and throw it away. Rookie mistake.
3. Shimmy your way to the counter of the (always crowded) bar. Say “Senta!” to get attention and hand your receipt to the first barista you see. Note: lines do not exist in Italy. Be aggressive!
4. The barista will hand you a baby-sized cup full of perfection. If you are like me, you will add one packet of sugar and stir with the accompanying baby-sized spoon.
5. All Italian coffee should be consumed in 3 sips- no more, no less.
Say “Ciao Grazie!” and head off on your way. The best days start with the best coffee!