The Triestine Coffee Dilemma

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Illustration courtesy of Sofi Deyneka
Reading Time: 2 minutes

words: MK

illustration: Sofi Deyneka

So, you came to Trieste? Great choice! The food, the wine, the history, and of course, the coffee. Italians, even more so Triestini, are very particular about their coffee and while you can probably get by with whatever terms you’d use at your local coffee shop back home, it’s best to have a strong understanding of Triestine coffee options. 

The way we drink coffee says a lot about who we are. Even more so, if you land in the multicultural hub with a city-like attitude, Trieste. Little gives out your foreignness as much as your know-how in ordering coffee out here. Not your clothes, or your flip-flops out of season (by the way, I’m still confused as to why you shouldn’twear flip-flops when it’s + 20 C out in April or October), but the stern confidence with which you say ‘caffellatte’ when ordering your cappuccino.

The passion Triestini have for coffee is as strong as its economic importance. Although Italy is a nation of coffee drinkers, in Trieste annual coffee consumption per capita – 10 kilograms – is double the national average.

Triestini drink certain beverages at certain times of day. For instance, cappuccino (apologies, caffelatte) is generally reserved for breakfast—not to be ordered after 11:00 a.m. A macchiato (oops, I meant capo) is traditionally enjoyed as a bit of an afternoon pick-me-up and espresso (oh, I meant nero) is served after lunch and dinner. 

Confused yet? Wait till you hear about Trieste’s favorite – capo-in-b. Served in a small glass, capo-in-b stands for ‘cappuccino in bicchiere’ (a cappuccino in a glass, yes, but it’s actually a macchiato in a glass). Want a little extra coffee in your macchiato? Ask for a capo scuro. A little less coffee? Say, ‘un capo chiaro, grazie.’ Not a fan of too much milk? Ask for a gocciato (with a drop of milk). And once you’re done exploring the many varieties of coffee drinks on offer, it’ll be time for a deca (decaffeinated).

It might sound like you need a PhD in coffee when going to a bar here, but remember it’s all just part of the game we call la dolce vita Triestina. In the end, always remember to have fun and never to order a ‘latte’ as you will get just that – a glass of cold milk. 

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Maria Kochetkova
Editor-in-Chief of InTrieste, Maria writes about culture, politics and all things Trieste in-between capo-in-b and gelato breaks. Email her at editorial@intrieste.com

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