I have coffee in my veins. Probably.

coffee poster.bmp

I wouldn’t make a good Italian.

Oh, in many ways I would – the whole crazy shouting over emotional thing, yep. I have that in spades.

Lets just wave goodbye to all my Italian readers as they rush for the door in disgust at my hackneyed cliche.

My failing point as an Italian is the whole cappucino thing. I drink about three a day. In fact, I just had one. Which is a slight problem, being that it’s currently 10pm.

I’ve been told (by an Itatlian) that the cappucino is a breakfast drink. You don’t drink it later in the day. That’s when you drink expressos.

But you know – I want what I want. I’m sorry, Italy.

It’s a true fact that Italians know their coffee. I would rather drink coffee from a run down café in Italy than a starbucks in the UK any time.

Mr Boxer Shorts and I spent three weeks driving through Italy in a hire car, camping along the way. From Venezia to Napoli, getting junked up on some of the best coffee in the world.

We were in a little port between Genoa and our next destination when we needed some change for the parking metre. We popped into the nearest shabby looking café and ordered some pastries and coffee just to get the change. We expected to down a couple of gritty pots of brown stuff and be back out in the sunshine in less than 10 minutes.

Instead we lingered over some mind blowingly gorgeous coffee.

The italians – they just DO it best!

Our high street here is overrun with coffee places, and none of them any good. The only major chain we don’t have is Starbucks, and hopefully they don’t want to get a toehold in a burgeoning suburban market.

There was an independent coffee shop that closed down the minute the first major chain opened up. I couldn’t understand how people would rather go to Costa Coffee with its mediocre servings and misnamed sizes, when they could go 4 doors further on to a personal and friendly coffee house with great food.

And then after that coffee house turned into a bookies, three more chains popped up, and seem to be doing a brisk business despite the competition. Just weird.

Some of my best memories involve coffee, and they are rarely in big coffee chains. One of my favourite moments in time came back in 1991, when I was one of the census takers who delivered and picked up census forms from residential areas.

I’d been walking for 2 hours picking up completed forms, and darkness was falling, so I decided to do one more house and then go home. I was about halfway up the street, so I’d have to come back the next evening and start where I left off. I did that last house, and then for some reason I suddenly decided to do one MORE house before quitting for the night.

The door at the next house was answered by a small swarthy gentleman in a white shirt, with tufts of grey hair at either side of his very tanned face. I started to explain who I was and what I was doing there, but he interupted me, told me he didn’t understand English, but his wife did, they had questions about the form, she was cooking dinner, come, come to the kitchen, she’ll sort it out!

Now the guidelines for the census clearly warned us that we should not enter houses. This was a safety thing. But this man didn’t feel dangerous, and I followed him through the dim corridors of the Australian bungalow to a cosy kitchen in the back.

His wife was olive skinned with greying hair, wearing floral house dress and apron. She really was “bustling about” the kitchen banging pots and pans. She grabbed the form after the husband sent a stream of foreign chatter at her, and sat down with me. They were worried about filling in the form wrong, or making it invalid by an error. She wanted to go through all her answers with me in case they weren’t correct. She tells me that she wants to be a good Australian.


As I tried to explain to her that the answers would be fine, and if she wanted to skip some that was still ok, the husband starts offering me coffee and shortbread. It’s Turkish coffee, and looks like ink in a tiny little cup. I am not supposed to be in the house, let alone accepting food or drink (in case they are doping me up, and planning to sell me off to the slave trade!) but I accept it anyway.

And what bliss. What heaven in a cup! The shortbread is gorgeous, but the coffee is divine. The small spoon practically stands up by itself when I try and stir it.

We sit and drink and eat, and I reassure them that their form is fine, and they are very happy. As I leave into the darkness – my last house now having taken 30 minutes instead of 3 – I am glad I decided to do one more house a second time.

So the Italians aren’t alone in the great coffee business, the Turkish are right up there too. And coffee moments are the ones that stay with you.

Categories: crazy people


  • urbanvox says:

    weeeelll… I still think you should try the Brazilian coffee… 😉

  • Michael says:

    Being Italian by descent I know and understand (and mostly abide by) the coffee rules. Like most sensible rules they are there to protect you from yourself! Why would you want to pour hot foamy milk inside you after an excellent repas of pasta, cheese, salamis, etc? 🙂 But turkish coffee I admit I’ve never actually tried, and somehow feel I may have missed something there…

  • alison says:

    Does it make it ok that I never drink coffee with meals? I would have a cappuccino for morning tea, and one for afternoon tea. They are an event in themselves.

  • Elly Lou says:

    Blech. Dirty brown water. I HATE the stuff. I don’t even eat coffee cake just on principle. Yup, I’m 12.

  • The Wifey says:

    Fear not for failing as an Italian, my dear. I’ve got a lot of Italy in me and I drink cappucino throughout the day, too. Breakfast is for people who wake up. You have to sleep first to do that. 🙂