Culture, women and coffee: this is what a tourist will always analyze in every country he visits. As for the coffee, trust me: it’s damn hard to get a bad coffee in Italy. That’s just one of the ten zillion reasons (and probably the most unusual of all) why I have always loved this incredible country. Drinking a lot of coffee definitely ranks among my “Top Ten Things To Do At Christmas And Everyday, Too”. So, in order to preserve traditions, this Christmas my tongue has came across Kimbo, a coffee that represents the Neapolitan coffee culture. Coffee drinkers around the world, forget about Folgers or Starbucks: Italian coffee is the ultimate coffee. 😀 But let’s put aside brands and just let me make out of Kimbo a reason to take you to a coffee-journey across Napoli.
Of course, as you can imagine, there are many beautiful Italian cities with traditions such as Rome, Venice, Milan and Turin. Yet, further South there is the lovely Napoli (Naples). People of Naples love coffee or, even better, espresso. Coffee culture and their daily espresso are as much part of Neapolitan culture as being jolly, laid-back and passionate.
Neapolitans are very critical with it for espresso is not just espresso. There are many kinds and many ways of preparing and drinking it. Traditionally Espresso Corto with little water and much coffee and Espresso Lungo with a little more water are the favorites of the Neapolitans. This does not mean that they do not fancy Caffè Latte or Caffè Macchiato; they just prefer espresso.
Owing to the fact that in Naples almost everyone has their own regular bar where they feel welcome and, of course, have the best espresso, there are about 500 to 600 coffee bars in the city. It is really conspicuous that coffee bars in the South are clearly distinct from those in the North of the country. While in the North people sit down, you stand up in the South (mainly in Naples). Going to a coffee bar is a regular ritual: you enter a bar, have a coffee and a glass of water (you always order a coffee and a glass of water) and go back to your work. This way Neapolitans easily have 3 or 4 espressos a day. They simply take that time and enjoy their coffee. And at prices between 70 and 90 cents per cup this is also an affordable pleasure.
Those who have no time or think espresso does not taste that well in a bar make their coffee at home. Each household in Naples has their own small espresso machine or cafetière. This little stainless steel machine makes a heavenly espresso in no time. The cafetière is used every morning because the first thing that comes to a Neapolitan’s mind is a freshly brewed espresso which they mostly have with milk. You do not leave house before you have had some coffee! There is a saying in Naples about how an espresso should taste: it should be the three Cs, ‘comme cazzo coce’ which in English means “It’s darn hot”.
The typical Naples coffee bar layout is rather simple if not even old-fashioned, without any knickknacks. A small bar, a few snacks, two to three employees and that is about it. If you prefer larger and more modern, you have to go to a Bar Pasticceria. What should not be missing, of course, is a Barista. A Barista in a suit hurrying from office to office with a tray in his hand is simply there to serve coffee to those who cannot leave office. They are not to be mistaken with what we know today as a Barista, namely the person working behind the bar making drinks.
And now that I’ve taken you back from this Napoli yummy trip – or back just from a journey through my exquisite Kimbo memories – I’ll let you consider the idea of going and see/taste for yourself l’Italia e il suo buonisssssssimo caffè.