For many people, poor souls, coffee is simply a beverage that one drinks. To anyone who appreciates coffee all’italiana however, a good caffé is so much more. Now, without going Aristotelian on anyone, one of its main aspects is aesthetic… yes, as in visual. Coffee mustn’t just taste good, it needs to look good too… this is Italy after all.
E allora? Order it al vetro, “in glass”. Your excuse is that it cools more quickly than in the traditional ceramic cup, a desirable trait when it’s hot out. But you aren’t fooling anyone… the real reason is aesthetic. It just looks better. As you would say in Italy, l’occhio vuole la sua parte. (lit., the eye demands its share.)
While the normal caffé al vetro is your aesthetic standard, occasionally you might want to mess with perfection and spruce it up a notch. In this case, ask for un caffé al vetro schiumato… literally, “foamed”. Here your barista will serve it with a spoonful of foamed milk deposited on top. Drink it as is, don’t stir it together!
Feeling daring? Very occasionally, you just have to go for broke… nothing else will do but the gold-standard of caffé aesthetics. Here you are entering the rarefied world of the true intenditore (aficionado, lit. someone who understands, i.e. just “gets it”). Best not indulge too often as this one is highly addictive. Un caffé al vetro con panna (with whipped cream) is a visual experience, and not just, that will keep you smiling for the entire day.