COFFEE is the new BLACK (at least for me it is).

Before moving to Italy, I never drank a cup of coffee. Seriously.

I loved making it for my family in the morning, I loved the smell of freshly ground coffee beans, and I loved using it as a hand warmer during my brothers night-time baseball games… but I never, ever had the desire to taste it.

I learned early on in life to avoid coffee when I heard Alicia Silverstone say, “Coffee stunts your growth, and I wanna be 5’10” like Cindy Crawford.” (Clueless, 1995). Needless to say, I believed her at age 10.

Over a decade later and 2 inches short of Cindy Crawford, I still hadn’t had a cup of coffee… until I made the move across the ocean in 2009.

However, before settling down in Monza, Italy I decided to take a mini-vacation in Rome. The night I arrived, I was invited to eat dinner at 10pm in a strangers home, with full table of other strangers because of my sister’s friend, friend’s friends.

So let the culture shock begin:

  • Dinner was organized 5hrs later than my “normal” dinner time
  • The Italian noise level was out of this world
  • There were 10 people in a 5×11 area (yes, like a hallway), sitting down at one table, eating dinner all together, enjoying each others company… and sadly, I think that was the biggest shock for me…

Around 11pm we finished the meal and the host started to pass around coffee to everyone. I politely declined the espresso, however, “no” was not an acceptable answer. Quickly realizing this, I took the coffee and stared at it.

To be honest, I didn’t know what to do!

The cup was tiny, it was pitch black (no milk after dinner), and I contemplated taking it like a shot.

Slowly but surely I was convinced to take a sip of “Italian Coffee”.

I looked around the table and saw some people drink it black and some people added sugar (no milk whatsoever). So I took a tiny sip and hid the fact that I almost had a heart attack due to the bitter flavor. Added 1 packet of sugar. Took another sip. Added another packet of sugar, and couldn’t believe how much better it tasted!

Overjoyed with excitement, I finished all 5 sips of the espresso.

It was a momentous occasion to share with my new friends and they congratulated me by giving me a “1 person Moka” (Moka= Italian Coffee Maker) as a housewarming present for my new home in Monza (which was the most thoughtful gift I’ve ever received)!!!

Hooked on the process of making Italian Coffee, I must’ve purchased a total of 15 Italian Mokas for all of my family and friends at home (not realizing that we sell them in the USA). However, as much as I loved making Italian Coffee for friends, I still wasn’t interested in drinking coffee every single morning.

On rare occasions I’d drink coffee when it was put in front of me, when I ordered coffee ice cream and when I ate tiramisu (FYI: it is perfectly acceptable to eat tiramisu after dinner or first thing in the morning when you wake up)… however, I never got into the pure caffeine habit… until I turned 25.

I’m not exactly sure what happened. It may have coincided when I hit that quarter-life crisis I’ve mentioned. However, regardless of its origin, I noticed a “heaviness” before work and really needed an extra boost to get through the day. Drugs weren’t an option so I did a few experiments- started the day eating cereal, changed to a croissant, skipped breakfast all together and then I had an espresso…

Mamma mia! Can you say, “Instant human??” My energy level shot through the roof and I felt like a brand new person. Seriously, just add coffee.

At one point I was thinking that I needed an IV of this liquid gold, but soon realized that I should only drink coffee when in serious need (which occurred most weekdays).

Now that I’ve crossed over to adulthood by drinking coffee (solely) for the caffeine benefits, I’d like to share some of my coffee experiences:

My first Italian Coffee making experience went haywire b/c I forgot to turn off the fire… second time, I forgot to add water…

I started to accept the complimentary “post-lunch” coffee at Turne Monza.

Pre-work breakfast at Vigano Monza had the power to put me in a state of nirvana.

On one of the hottest days in Italy, I cooled down with an iced coffee called a Shakerato- chilled to perfection (without the chunks of ice) from Safino & Co.

Chocolate + Coffee = Genius @ Safino & Co.

I love coffee ice cream but I

At the California Bakery in Milan, I ordered from the brunch menu. Included in the meal: American Coffee. I asked the waiter to substitute it for an espresso and was denied the request. Needless to say, this cup was the first to arrive and the first to leave- Sorry USA, only Italian Coffee for me, please.

Best cafe in Monza? Try Safino & Co., they’re new to town but they’ve made a huge first impression since January 2011. Family owned and operated, Safino & Co. supports the Slow Food Movement by purchasing quality products and ingredients. Many have said that they make the BEST CAPPUCINO and I can confirm this recommendation. From the first sip you can taste the strong flavor, yet smooth texture of the coffee. The foam on top is silky and you almost feel devastated when it’s all gone.

Aside from the coffee, I highly recommend trying the multi-grain baguette for 1,90 euro, they have a variety of pastries ranging from 2,00-5,00 euro and scoops of delicious icecream for 3,00+ euro.

Want more? They offer artisan beers, freshly squeezed juices and a list of specialty cocktails. And if you really want a special treat, review their Parisian Kusmi Tea Menu to enjoy a pot of your very own for 6,00 euro; each pot is hand brewed and timed to perfection.

Try them, you’ll taste the quality ingredients which define Italy’s Slow Food Movement!

Via Vittorio Emanuele II, 44, 20090 Monza, Italy

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My first Italian Coffee making experience went haywire b/c I forgot to turn off the fire... second time, I forgot to add water...
On one of the hottest days in Italy, I cooled down with an iced coffee called a Shakerato- chilled to perfection (without the chunks of ice) from Safino & Co.
I love coffee icecream but I'm also a huge fan of this- two scoops of vanilla icecream with two shots of espresso poured on top- heaven!
Chocolate + Coffee = Genius