I have been trying to figure out what makes Italian coffee so great. Here is my best guess:
1. They take care of their cows, and they have better milk. Period.
2. They do not grande, venti, or super size their coffee. A cappuccino in Italy is one shot in a cup about the size below (150 ml compared to 360 ml in the US). Frothing extra milk and double sizing it, in my opinion, upsets the balance of coffee to milk/froth.
3. The milk is frothed to a temperature of which best profiles flavor. 140 degrees or a friend of mine said kids temp. The difference between an overheated cappuccino and one that is correctly temped is drinkable vs not.
4. When a coffee is made properly it is a wonderful part of the day. We have been accustomed to a very inferior interpretation of this Italian tradition. Americans are great innovators and can bring products to the masses to enjoy. Italians however have managed to do this very thing without sacrificing the essence of what it is.
5. Italians take amazing pride in making their coffee. I have only had one cup that I would not drink and the rest have been fantastic. Some of the best have even been on the Auto Strad, where drivers refuel themselves after driving at high speeds. My rationale is that bad coffee does not exist here, because they know what good coffee is and shop owners know that they will not be in business if they don’t make the best that they can.