As I sit here this morning having my morning coffee...in anxious anticipation of my departure for this year's Boutique Group Trip, I'm envisioning myself in a few days enjoying my morning coffee in Italy then Austria and Germany. Now I'm no coffee aficionado but I do know that ordering coffee and knowing what you are getting can be very different in other countries than what we are used to in the US. Most of time when you travel you probably familiarize yourself with a few words in the local language, know what the local cuisine is...how about knowing how to order your coffee and what to expect to get your day started with the java kickstart that you like.
For Italians on their way to work in the morning a stop at a coffee bar is a norm. Now they aren't there to spend long hours socializing and they definitely don't sit down and expect to be waited on.....that's what a tourist does! Instead they make their way up to the counter and order their favorite drink, slurp down their coffee quickly and then it's off to work. Now I'm a no frills coffee drinker, just black - no cream or sugar. As an example if I were to order a coffee (caffe) in Italy I need to be prepared to be served an espresso, very strong coffee, in a very small demitasse cup or I can order a Lungo, which is diluted espresso served in a tall cup which might also be referred to as a Caffe Americano. Not sure you can handle the amount of caffeine in the espresso or you like to have a coffee in the evening, then order a Caffe Hag and no they won't think you are referring to the old woman at the end of the bar. Hag is the largest producer of Italian decaf coffee and so often is referred to when someone wants a decaffeinated drink. Now we Americans like our cappuccino's, latte's and macchiato's but be prepared for what you will get in Italy if this is what you order. If you order a latte you will most likely be served a glass of milk. Instead you should order a Latte Macchiato - milk with a small amount of espresso or a Latte Macchiato Scuro which will have more espresso than a Latte Macchiato. A Cappuccino in Italy is much smaller than what you would receive in the US and consists of equal parts espresso, milk and wet foam. This is strictly for drinking at breakfast and a true Italian would never order or a cappuccino after 11:00 AM. If you really want that mid-afternoon cappuccino go ahead and order one......but be prepared to get an appalling look! An Italian Caffe Macchiato will be espresso with a slight amount of milk foam, kind of the opposite of a Latte Macchiato. Now you know what to order but you really don't want to stand at a bar and drink your caffe, you can sit down at a table....but be prepared to pay a higher price for anything you order.
On to Austria and our first stop will be Vienna, home to the famous Viennese coffee houses. A visit to a Viennese coffee house will be a totally different experience. There you are encouraged to sit, linger, meet friends, read the paper.....in fact you can stay all day if you want. A visit to a Viennese coffee house is not to be rushed so take a deep breath, slow down and enjoy the coffee house culture. Your coffee will most likely be served on a small plate with a glass of water and sometimes a small piece of chocolate. I like the sounds of this....now what to order.
Well that should get our days started in each country......now for the rest of the day.