Trends & lifestyle

Coffee, Italian Dolce Vita: Leccese and Other Caffè Inspiration

Espresso, cappuccino, and macchiato immediately spring to mind when one thinks of Italian caffè, and rightfully so–the beverages are integral to the country’s contemporary coffee culture. However, Italians are keen on caffeinating with cold coffee beverages.

Shaken, not stirred

Italy’s most popular iced coffee beverage is undoubtedly the Caffè Shakerato, comprising one long shot of hot, freshly brewed espresso combined with simple syrup. As its name implies, it’s shaken with ice and then served in a Martini glass. Coffee lovers around the peninsula opt for this specialty, yet the Pugliesi sip a regional brew. So-called for the city of Lecce and the region of Salento, the Leccese or the Salentina, are one and the same: a shot of fresh espresso poured over ice to which almond syrup, preferably house-made, is added. 

A spoonful of sweetness

Italians also enjoy richer, dessert-like cold coffee concoctions, like the affogato. Named for the Italian word for “drowned,” the affogato calls for “drowning” a scoop of vanilla ice cream in freshly brewed espresso.” Also, it’s not uncommon to find crema al caffè, a sweetened coffee slush called at bars, and select gelato shops offer coffee granita–nutty flavours like pistachio or almond pair exceptionally well with the latter.

Some like it hot

Those who prefer hot coffee can temper the heat with a delicate touch of lemon. Known as espresso romano, this beverage has ties to Naples and Campania due to the Amalfi Coast’s abundance of lemons. Yet it’s practised far and wide, so it’s not unusual to see a lemon twist alongside espresso as far north as Venice. To recreate this, peel the lemon skin, removing all traces of the pulp. Next, slice into thin strips, and drop one into each cup of freshly brewed espresso.  

To caffeinate Italian-style at home, this Dolce Vita Coffee recipe riffs on the Italian coffee tradition, combining custard cream with a freshly brewed cappuccino, then finishing with cocoa powder and a lemon twist. The drink’s not served over ice, but the custard cream and lemon add a refreshing touch.