Learning Italian, Phrase by Simple Phrase
October 4, 2017
Un caffè, per favore.
un = a, indefinite article for a singular masculine noun
caffè = espresso by default, a thick, creamy shot of coffee made very quickly
A coffee, please. After ice cream, my favorite common item in Italy might be the coffee. I rarely drank coffee before my fateful trip to Sicily, but now I have become one of those insufferable coffee snobs who looks sadly at her thin shot of harsh bean juice in a paper cup and privately vows to take espresso only in Europe.
My first espresso experience was a bar in Palermo, right before I met up with my friend A. at Palermo Centrale Station. In hesitant Italian, I asked the older gentleman installed outside if there was coffee, or caffè. When he responded, Sì, yes (exactly like Spanish!), I proceeded inside and told the man behind the bar, un caffè, per favore. In short order, in front of me sat a tiny porcelain tazza di caffè. Later, I would learn that I much prefer it with sugar, but for now, I wanted it straight. Creamy and bitter, the unmistakable aroma of coffee enveloped me and the hot, but not burning, caffeinated ambrosia slid across my tongue, leaving a pleasant tartness in its wake.
In Italy, the standard coffee is espresso. Macchiato means "marked" and denotes an espresso with just a dab of milk. Cappuccino is the delicious shot with frothed milk. Latte just means milk, and if that's what you ask for, that's exactly what you will get! Honestly, I never got past the espresso and macchiato in my short time in Italy. If you are a fan of coffee, I am sure that you already know a lot more than I do about it!