Caffe: There's not a Starbucks for miles around. When you ask for coffee and want something that comes in a cup larger than the length of your thumb, Neapolitans either look confused or smirk. For them, coffee is caffe and caffe everywhere else in the world is called espresso.
Neapolitans drink three kinds of caffe all day long: lungo (long, like a double shot), ristretto (short, no more than a tablespoon), and macchiato (long with a dollop of milk foam on top). What makes a cup of caffe good or bad is the frothy foam on the shot. The espresso machine and the barista together perfect this art.
In the morning, Neapolitans also drink cappuccino, which is a shot of espresso with milk and foam and comes in a regular tea cup. But Italians don't tend to drink cappuccino beyond the early morning hours. They also don't eat breakfast, ordering a quick cornetto (crossaint) instead. Sometimes you can see men drink caffe with a little "top off" of an aperativo in the morning, such as Martini & Rossi. Most Italians spend a lengthy time standing at the bar counter stirring sugar into their caffe before downing the shot.
While Italians don't copy Starbucks, nowadays baristas often do add an 'extra touch' to their caffe. In fact, some of the best caffe renditions come from -- you'll never guess it -- the Caffe Bars at the shopping malls.
Just about anywhere in the city, you can get specialty coffee drinks with their own exotic names like "The Morocco" or "The Grandma." They announce their twists on billboards and each bar considers their speciality drinks proprietary.
A drink I had recently included amaretto flavoring, whipped cream, chocolate syrup, and a shot of espresso. The barista encouraged me to stir it before I sipped.
These beverages are enjoyed at all hours of the day. Now I'm on the hunt for the best new 'caffe drink' in Naples. I'll post my findings along the way.
For today, I'll say -- Zing, Zing!