Un caffè per favore is what an Italian client typically asks when entering a café. He then most likely drinks his single espresso directly from the counter and rushes off. This usually takes maximum five, sacred, minutes especially for those going back to work today.
Drinking caffè is rooted in Italian culture, but it comes with several clichés. Cristina Caroli, National Coordinator for Specialty Coffee Association and owner of Aroma Café in Bologna explains how most cafés in Italy are bound by contracts with big roasteries which offer various commodities like logoed cups or machineries, together with their coffee.
In Italy coffee has to be cheap, one euro. Charge more and you get several raised eyebrows.
These might be the reasons why the so-called Third Wave coffee scene is taking so long to emerge. But what exactly is the Third Wave? Back in the early days coffee was purely a beverage, without any kind of particular qualifications. Over time it has become a status, a symbol of a certain lifestyle and coolness: this is known as the Second Wave and it found its best expression in Starbucks. The Third Wave of coffee focuses on coffee per se: an artisanal product that can be of high value if all procedures, from plantation to cup, are carried out with meticulous care. Lacking in chic, lifestyle-oriented coffee chains (till recently), Italy is slowly showing interest in the Third Wave.
Expanding our horizons to the finest espresso cups in Milan, we recommend you trying these places:
STARBUCKS RESERVE ROASTERY
If you walk by the former post office in Piazza Cordusio and see a line of people waiting, know that they are about to enter the theatre of coffee roasting. The Seattle's based king of coffee has enhanced the city of Milan with a glorious space devoted entirely to coffee and Italian craftsmanship. From marble floors to Murano-window glasses and wood counters, the coffee you will taste at the Roastery has nothing to do with the frappuccinos and lattes you find at recently opened Starbucks in Corso Garibaldi. The premium Reserve experience offers a limited availabity, small-lot Arabica coffee from 30 countries around the world, roasted for the first time in Europe and paired with freshly baked artisanal food from local bakery Princi.
Related article: A Dining Guide to Duomo, San Babila and Quadrilatero
Nestled in the residential area close to Porta Venezia stands this coffee gem. Walk along the leafy street of Via Morgagni to find the wood-door of Orsonero, a cosy coffeeshop where creatives and intellectuals love to mingle. Canadian-born owner Brent Jopson engages with his clients and spreads the passion he has for coffee culture. Order a single shot brew and smell the complexity of his coffee. Plumb, almond, chocolate... what else can you taste? If you think we are taking this too seriously, we suggest you going experience it yourself.
Another Milanese favourite is Moleskine Café in Corso Garibaldi. The successful business of stationary and writing supplies has transferred its distinctive approach to the coffee industry allowing the creative crowd to sit in a clean and tidy space to throw a bunch of ideas on paper, while enjoying a quality cup of coffee. The espresso blend offered is pure 100% Arabica made from high-grade commercial beans from different locations around the world like Colombia, Costa Rica and Ethiopia.
Related article: A District Guide to Porta Nuova, Isola and Brera
A short walk from Porta Genova station, Taglio is the place you need to stop by for a good cup of coffee as well as for fresh, quality ingredients. Looking at the brickwall behind the counter you will see the perfect balance between coffee bags and alchool bottles suggesting this is a cool spot to be from dawn to dusk. Their coffee blend is distinctive for its soft caramel and creamy dark cocoa flavours that are the result of a 4-year successful collaboration with TAF roastery.
Related article: A District Guide to Navigli, Porta Genova & Tortona
Connecting Duomo to Navigli, Corso di Porta Ticinese is vibrant street full of stylish shops, jewellery laboratories and hidden eateries. Opened in mid 2017, Cofficina is the roastery (popular among industry professionals) that serves accurate and well developed single origin pourovers. It perfectly blends the variety and depth of the third wave coffee culture with the Italian drink-and-go coffee consuming habit.
For more ideas on Do, Dine, Spend in Milan, visit our Destinations page.