Breaking Up With Espresso

un caffé

I have always liked coffee while in America.  Especially now that I am in college, I have relied heavily on coffee as my crutch on those many early mornings for my long lecture classes.  I am used to having at least one cup of caffeinated coffee a day in the United States, and have had virtually no problems with it nor had any horrible reactions to caffeine…so what would make my caffeine tolerance that much different in Italy? Maybe it is the type of coffee bean that is used or the temperature it is brewed at?  Regardless, the actual fact that espresso has less caffeine than “American coffee” has been shattered, in my opinion.

In this moment, I am about to share with you an embarrassing experience that by default, can be defined as a very awkward experience.  Looking back, my friends and I laugh at it, so I suppose it qualifies as the funniest experience in Italy so far, too.

Espresso Maker aka Moka Pot

Every day my host-mom offers me tea or un caffè (espresso) with my breakfast.  Usually I just have tea or water, but this particular Thursday morning, I decided to go for the espresso in hopes that it would maybe help me get to class on time.   After having the espresso, I felt the same except a little bit more awake.  On my walk to school, I felt perfectly normal.  I arrived early to my class—coincidence, I think not—and it was not until I sat down prepared for lecture, that I began to feel oddly energetic.  I am not a morning person so this energetic feeling was something I accepted with open arms.

However, during class I kept fidgeting and my legs all of a sudden felt like Jell-O.  My hands were shaking—thank God I am not a surgeon—and my mind could not focus.  I kept thinking of everything I had to do, so I wrote down everything that came to my mind, complete with doodles, drawings, and love confessions.  Finally, my class was over and I was beginning to feel a little less caffeinated.  I told my friends I needed to get lunch soon so that I could stabilize my caffeine reaction and be able to focus in my one-on-one Italian class.

We went to our usual spot for lunch, and after eating I already felt as though I did not even have the espresso in the first place.  In fact, I felt so tired that…I decided to order yet another espresso!  I finally gave in to the advice of the ‘bad conscious’ sitting on my left shoulder, completely ignoring my ‘good conscious’ that was warning me to stay away from the caffeine.  Right, wrong, good, bad, it was all synonymous in that moment, and ‘my sleepiness’ decided that the only way I could get through my Italian class was if I had the energy to do so.

Espresso cup

Therefore, I had the espresso about 20 minutes before the start of my Italian class, so the effects of my second caffeine source of the day were in their prime.  I arrived in my Italian class, sat down, and my head immediately started spinning.  The espresso I had at the restaurant must have been much stronger than the one I had at home, because I could not even contain myself.  I was intoxicated on caffeine.

I immediately made the situation awkward (something I do quite well) by telling my teacher, while turning bright red and laughing, that my head is spinning because I had an espresso.  I was probably far from believable, and my disposition resembled that of a person after an alcoholic drink, not an espresso.   I had to speak in Italian the whole class, so while managing to do that, I still giggled randomly, struggled to make eye contact, and consistently held my head as if doing so would stop it from spinning.  It is just so awkward to be in a classroom with only me and the teacher, being in the state that I was in.  I just hope that it was not as noticeable to my Italian teacher as it was to me and my friends.  I honestly can say I will be breaking off my relationship with Italian caffè, and moving on to simpler beverages that do not have the side effects akin to that of…well, you know.  I hope all of you who come to Italy and try the caffè will not have this same issue, because it truly is the best coffee around!

Submitted by Caitlin, Abroad101 Global Ambassador in Sorrento, Italy