Italy vs. America – Coffee

In an effort to let go of my reverse culture shock,  I have decided to start a series entitled: Italy vs. America. The first post is in regards to coffee. Italy wins. Hands down.

Italy: 1

America: 0

Quality, quantity, sustainability, and customer service.


My Italian family gave me one of their espresso makers (you get something similar at Target) and a homemade contraption to properly pack the grinds. Every morning I fill the lower pod with fresh water to the bolt, pack the espresso in the middle portion and throw it on the stove. The smell of freshly brewed cafe paired with the sound of boiling water almost brings me back to the foothills of the Italian Alps.

You would think as Fireball lovin’ Americans the idea of a quick shot would get the heart racing. But, bigger is better. Starbucks makes me want to vomit (other than the turkey bacon breakfast sandwich) with the excessive of choices and special “two pumps only” patrons.

Customer service is better when it’s honest. The experience of handing your ticket to a lovely dressed barista, amongst 20 other chattering Italians, is one of its own. They tear your ticket, sprint to the machine and return only to slide your hot cup across the bar. It always lands right in front of you. 

A grande latte now feels like a meal. When will they add a plastic knife and fork to the side of the cup?  And then, and then and then and then and then you have the hip coffee bars with weak coffee and baristas with even weaker people skills. Stop trying to make fetch happen. 

I intend to limit my coffee take away cups to 4 a month. I’d say zero but that’s unrealistic. Check out Get the Facts on Carry Your Cup in regards to America’s consumption: The average American office worker uses about 500 disposable cups every year. 

And remember, beautiful cups make room for beautiful coffee.


Daily ritual: this cup makes me smile and was a gift from the teachers I worked with in Italy.

Nonna’s china


Lara’s china

That one night in Levico Terme – Trento, Italia 

As I sit at the top of the steps overlooking the center of the city, it hits me. Hits me like the strong Italian coffee I have 6 times a day. Time, is of the utmost importance but it should never be rushed. There will always be things to worry about, people to please, deadlines to be meet and lessons to learn. But, the most important is THE NOW.


Low quality photo, high quality moment

I’m perched next to chiesa di santa something overlooking 91 Italian students. They have their whole lives in front of them. They are full of life and energy. As I scan the scene I realize they are all characters in an important play: my life.

One group is in love. The next is running sprints up the steps.  I look to the left and spot the kid with the old soul talking to the teachers.  In front of me is my shadow who won’t leave my side and is nervous to talk to me.  Just to the left of the old soul are the kids who look like they are up to no good. Somewhere between the teachers and lovebirds you’ve got the highly intelligent group. And then there is me.

I will never have this time or space again. I may return to Italy, to teaching, to life but it will not be the same. This experience is unique. I have been welcomed here with open arms. I have learned so much about Italian culture, life and art. My heart is warm and my brain is full. And I’m changing. Everyday. Evolution of the mind, body and soul. Viva la bella vita.






Fortunato Depero


Outside MART


What’s the hurry?

What am I going to eat? Where do I need to be? What is happening tomorrow, next week, next year? I’m quickly approaching the one month mark living in Italy and I’ve had quite the revelation: family first.

Work hard play hard. I dont agree. The concept will eventually break you down.      Moderation is key.

Back at home in America, we are constantly in a hurry to get to the next task. We work all day, eat at our desks, rarely have a break, and forget to stop. There is this constant FOMO (mom this means fear of missing out…) as we are glued to our cellular devices during an entire meal. Fueled by Instagram, Facebook, Tumblr, Pinterest…we forget the ones who are sitting across from us. The ones we love. We forget to look them in the eyes.

No FOMO. Capturing your first day in the dirt should be celebrated. But, excessive self promotion or the perception you are happy is exhausting. 

Italy is different or maybe I just won the lottery. The family I am living with is so full of life. Breakfast, lunch and dinner is shared with one another. It isn’t a choice, it is a lifestyle. During these 3-5 hours we laugh, talk, and I attempt (still working on my Italian) to understand what they are so passionate about.

No selfies or Sunday Funday ads. Good company and good wine.

It makes me miss my family and Sunday dinners. It makes me want to be better. Better at life and better for my family. To be present and kind to all people. To let negative energy bounce off of me and to breathe life into others. I’m making a promise to myself to live in truth and to love with all my being. Happiness starts within.

x T