Turin’s Coffee Culture
Italy’s love of coffee is known the world over, but did you know that Turin is one of the best cities in Italy to try it?
Internationally famous, the high quality Lavazza brand started life in Turin and its headquarters are still in the city. In 1895, founder Luigi Lavazza bought a small shop in the city centre from which to start his coffee business and the rest is history. Lavazza’s coffee house San Tommaso 10 is where Luigi Lavazza’s shop once stood and is to be found in the heart of Turin’s historic city centre in the street of the same name. It is exceptionally popular and you will hardly be able to get through the door never mind to the counter to order your coffee. The range of coffees is what draws the crowds. Hazelnut and almond flavoured coffees are some of the favourites.
Caffè Vergnano also has a long history and has becoming increasingly well known internationally over recent years for its exceptional quality. Founded in 1882, by Domenico Vergnano in the small town of Chieri, just a few kilometres away from Turin, you can find the Vergnano brand in many local cafes and bars, at Eataly, the slow food inspired food market, and also at the aptly named 1882 in via Bertola.
How to Order Coffee in Italy
Ordering coffee in Italy can be slightly confusing for non-Italians who may not be used to the wide choice on offer and some rituals that accompany coffee drinking. One rule of thumb is that if you want to drink coffee like a local, avoid ordering cappuccino after 11am and, after an evening meal, only order espresso. Generally speaking and for reasons connected to good digestion, the milkier and richer the coffee, the more it is suited to being taken morning, mid-afternoon or in winter. In Italy, you will find that there are various ways to order a coffee. Here are just a few:
Caffè (espresso) or Caffè macchiato – When ordering ‘caffè’ in a Turin bar you will often be asked these days if you would like it ‘normale’ or ‘macchiato’. Answer ‘normale’ if your caffeine shot preference is short and black or ‘macchiato’ if you prefer your espresso with a shot of frothy milk.
Cappuccino – Espresso coffee and hot milk with a steamed milk foam it is generally served warm rather than piping hot so you should specify ‘molto caldo’ if you prefer it hotter.
Caffè Americano – This is a diluted espresso served in a large cup. You will usually be supplied with a small jug of hot water should you wish to make your drink even longer.
Marocchino – Typically served in a small glass cup it is coffee, and skimmed milk infused with either chocolate sauce or Nutella. Named after the Moroccans who came to find work in Turin in the 1990s this coffee may be known by a different name outside Piedmont.
Caffè corretto – This cheeky coffee is espresso with a good slug of grappa or spirits added to it. Good for the cold winter months.
Caffè con panna – Espresso coffee with a generous amount of whipped cream on top this is served in a large cup. Decadent and delicious and very popular in winter.
Caffè freddo – More of a summer drink, this is iced coffee served in a tall glass.
Caffè latte – This is similar to cappuccino but with more milk than coffee.
Latte macchiato – Hot milk and only a drop of coffee to give it a light brown colour it comes served in a tall glass.
Mini Taglio – A cup of espresso topped with a scoop of cream flavoured ice-cream this can also double up as a light dessert. A speciality at Silvano Gelato d’altri Tempi in via Nizza.
Bicerin – A medium tall glass of espresso, hot chocolate and cream this is a local speciality and said to have been invented at Caffè Fioro in the eighteenth century but Caffè Al Bicerin has become the most popular place to sample it.