Sunday, January 24, 2010

Travel to Rome: Coffe And Other Beverages

If you go to Italy, you have to drink coffee while there. I think that is a law or something. They say that about drinking wine too, and I did try a sample and didn't like it. I tried a sample (read that small swallow) of limoncello at a store and thought I had drank cough syrup. It was awful! I also tried some chocolate liquor (again a swallow) and nearly spewed it out. All my years of never drinking were not a waste. Good to know!

Now back to the Christian's drug of choice, caffine aka coffee!

When we would go into a place that sold coffee, called bars, we ordered from the cashier first and then took our receipt to the person behind the bar. That is just they way they do things in Italy. Bars also serve alcohol, food, pastries, and gelato (ice cream) all depending on how big of a bar it is. As in many bars in Rome, if you sit down to drink your coffee or eat your snack then you are changed a service fee which is equivalent to the tip. It is usually 1 or 2 Euros per person. We stood at the bar to drink our coffees most times.

We tried four different types of caffè (coffee) while in Rome. The best one of the whole trip was a caffè latte from Antico Caffè San Pietro. We went to several different coffee bars but found ourselves at Antico Caffè San Pietro several times since it is near the Vatican and that was a drop off point for the hotel shuttle. To me the caffè latte tasted just like coffee ice cream, which I LOVE, but hot. It had the perfect mix of espresso, milk, and sugar. This picture is not from Antico, but they all pretty much looked the same just different cups.

Caffe Latte

Caffè latte was pretty much the only thing Frankie ordered. He did try an espresso once, but my camera was dead, so no picture. It was too strong for both of us, but we did try it. The cup was tiny, like from a child's play set maybe. Typically a cup of espresso cost around one Euro and a caffè latte or cappuccino around two Euros. If a place is trying to charge more than that, try another place! We passed one place that was charging FOUR Euros for an espresso! Wow! This place wasn't a Starbucks either....there are no Starbucks in Rome or Italy for that matter!

Another coffee we tried was caffè lungo, which is a setting on the actual espresso maker. It allows more water to flow past the coffee grounds and into a slightly bigger cup. It is not a strong as an espresso, still strong though. It, like the espresso, is not served with milk only sugar. It is not to be sipped but drank quickly in 3 or 4 swallows.

One time I ordered it, I said, "Caffè lungo, per favore."
The barista said, "Caffè americano?"
I repeated, "Caffè lungo."
One more time she asked, "Caffè americano?"
I said with a smile, "No, caffè lungo." She returned the smile....I think she was impressed!

Caffe Lungo

The last type of Italian coffee we tried was the caffè americano. It is espresso at regular strength with water added after brewed. It is served with milk and, as with all coffees, sugar. It comes in a larger cup than even the caffè lungo. Caffè americano was what I had been ordering most of the time. We were at one bar and the cashier spoke English. She suggested that I try a caffè lungo because it had a better flavor. I took her suggestion and after that time ordered the caffè lungo a few more times. Most of the time I ordered a caffè americano though because it came with milk. I don't remember the coffee being bitter without the milk, but it still helps cut the strength and I liked the taste better. I just loved the little pitcher of milk and every cup of coffee we ordered came on a small serving plate.

Caffe Americano

Just in case you found yourself out and about but not near a bar....hard to do...but just in case you can always turn to the coffee vending machines. These don't just give you coffee like you can find here in hospitals. There are options like, espresso, cappuccino, caffè latte, machiato, caffè lungo and more. All the choices and on top of that it serves one of the best brand of coffee Lavazza!

coffee vending machine

Last photo about coffee. I just loved this store window!

Espresso machines

Another beverage that can not be missed, especially in the winter is hot chocolate. We had it one time and we chose the orange cinnamon hot chocolate. It was different from any other hot chocolate I have ever had. The taste was good, but it wasn't as sweet as I have had and it was much thicker.

Hot chocolate

Look, it doesn't even go up on the spoon it is so thick!

Hot chocolate

Two more beverages to go. Now for water. They serve bottled water and not because the water in Italy is bad. It is just what they do but even the government is trying to convince the Italians to drink more tap water. Anytime we ordered water they would ask us if we wanted it with gas or natural. Teehee...they asked if we wanted gassy water! I try to avoid all things gassy! I don't think we got the same brand of natural water twice though.

The last beverage we had was of course sodas. Diet Coke is called Coke Light, but then they also had Coke Zero. I still don't know the difference between them here! The most common options were Coca-Cola, Sprite, Orange Fanta, and Coke Light. Occasionally we did see Pepsi and at the grocery store we also found a store brand of cola. We only saw one or two soda fountains and they were at McDonald's and another fast food type of place. We had to buy soda in cans most of the time. The cans we bought at restaurants and bars had aluminum covers and once that was removed it was a pop top like we have here.

covered coke can

They also had sizes other than the 12 oz. we have here. Here is an example of a half liter can of Coca-Cola. This can and other cans were tall and skinny. It was neat to see the differences in a product that is so well know here.

Half Liter Coca-Cola

So after eating and drinking our way across Rome we decided to enjoy more sites! Coming up next the Coliseum.