“Let´s have a coffee” – sounds simple enough, you would think. But depending on where you are, the meaning changes: saying it in the US, it means: you count on an hour, sit down and have at least one big cup of coffee and eat a cookie. Let´s have a coffee in Italy means, you drop in at a coffee bar on your way and have an espresso, standing at the bar. The whole thing takes 10 minutes and you are back on your way. It´s definitely not what we associate with ” la Dolce vita” – sitting in the sun and drinking cappuccino. It has more to do with filling the tank, like the espresso is the gas for the Italians, the fuel that helps them get through their hectic, chaotic day. Sitting down is something only old people or tourists do. If you have been in Italy perhaps you have already noticed that it´s more expensive to have your coffee at the table? No wonder, you have to pay the additional service.
If you want to play it safe, you have to stay at the bar, have to be part of the life there and have to talk to the barista (barman), who is the linchpin of the place and communication which goes on there. You had better not wait till he asks what you would like to have: chances are that you´ll wait for the rest of the morning. Try to make eye contact and then order, even if you don´t speak Italian he will understand.