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Caffè is the word for coffee(Italian), (likely from "Kaffa", the region in Ethiopia where coffee originated) and may indicate either the Italian way of preparing this beverage at home or espresso, which is prepared instead with (electrical) steam machines. A coffee house in Italy is generally termed a bar, and only in some cases called a caffè, as opposed to most other parts of the world, where a coffee house is termed a café.
Italians pay special attention to the preparation, the selection of the blends and the use of accessories, all part of a special culture focused on the drink.
Normally, within the espressobar environment, the term caffè denotes straight espresso. When one orders "un caffè" it is normally enjoyed at the bar, standing. The espresso is always served with a saucer and demitasse spoon, and sometimes with a complimentary wrapped chocolate and a small glass of water.
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The instrument used to prepare caffè at home, the caffettiera, is essentially a small steam machine made of a bottom boiler, a central filter which contains the coffee grounds, and an upper cup. In the traditional Moka, water is put in the boiler and the resulting boiling water passes through the coffee grounds, then reaches the cup. The Neapolitan caffettiera operates somewhat differently, and needs to be turned upside down when the drink is ready. Its boiler and cup are therefore interchangeable.
The quantity of coffee to be put in the filter determines the richness of the final beverage, but special care is needed in order not to block the water from crossing it, in case of an excess of grounds. Some hints prescribe that some small vertical holes are left in the powder by using a fork.
A small flame has to be used to provide an appropriate moderate water pressure; a high pressure makes the water run too quickly, resulting in coffee with little flavour. The flame under the caffettiera has to be turned off ten seconds after the first characteristic noise is heard, and eventually lit again in case the cup was not filled.
A related but separate translation of the Italian caffetteria is coffee house or café: an establishment in which caffè was traditionally made with a Moka. These places became common in the 19th century specifically for enjoying caffè, while the habit of caffè drinking at home started at the beginning of the 20th century, when caffettiera machines (Mokas) became available to the general public.
In the older caffetterie (Italian, plural), frequented by the upper classes, art and culture events were held. So, many caffetterie acquired cultural importance (like Caffè Greco at 84 Via Condotti, Rome; established in 1760) and became famous meeting points of artists, intellectuals, politicians, etc. This caffetterie culture was mainly enjoyed by men, while women organised their tea meetings.
The traditional afternoon serving of caffè has an almost ceremonial formality: the caffè is always brought with a silver pot; porcelain cups (which should be fine china and as plainly decorated as possible) are served on a saucer with their small silver spoon on the right (on the saucer). Sugar is served separately, in porcelain pots, with a separate silver spoon. After taking caffè, smokers are usually allowed to light their cigarettes (the service typically includes a porcelain ashtray). If women are present, it is they who might grant the men permission to smoke[unreliable source?]. It is not usual to serve pastries or biscuits with afternoon caffè, but an exception can be made in case there are women at the table[unreliable source?]. The coffee pot has to be left on the table, for a second cup. After-lunch coffee is taken at separate smaller tables, not at the main one[unreliable source?], and children are not normally welcome to join adults in such formalities[vague]. In the 21st century, as smoking laws and local customs change, caffè drinking becomes less formal overall.
Cappuccino is not related to traditional domestic coffee, being made with an espresso machine. However, caffè-latte (also known as a latte in the U.S. and Café au lait in France) is made with a simple mixture of hot coffee and hot milk, and served in cups that are larger than tea cups. Caffetterie usually serve caffè-latte too.
- "Embassy of The Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia : Coffee". Embassy of The Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia. Retrieved 27 October 2013.