Alon Preiss: Just Say No … to “Caffé Americano”

Here’s what bothers me:

I go into a restaurant, and I ask if they have decaf. They say: We have only decaf caffé Americano.

Well, I live in America, so I would contend that there is no such thing, here, as caffé Americano.

Here, in the United States, American coffee is just coffee.

But this awful slop that the baristas call caffé Americano isn’t American coffee. It’s what Italians think American coffee is.

That’s fine, if I am in Italy.

But not if I am in America.

I mean, I am here, living in America. When I am here, I’m American. When I am here, I am not Americano.

When I am in Italy, OK, call me Americano. When I am in America, just call me an American.

If you go to England and order an English muffin, you will get nothing but blank stares. In England, people don’t call themselves Inglese. In England, they are English. They don’t water down their beloved tea and call it tè inglese.

Horrible, Horrible Coffee

Why is this watery abomination referred to, in America, as caffé Americano?

It is said, but not confirmed, that American soldiers in Italy in World War II missed the coffee they knew back home, and the closest they could get was watered-down espresso. And the locals began to call watered-down espresso American coffee: caffé Americano.

It might be a myth, but if it is true, it could have been amusing during World War II. I mean, it was a not-very-funny period of time, so I can excuse it. Enjoy yourselves with your little Americano joke in 1943, in Italy, but don’t say it here in America, in 2022.

Because it’s not American coffee. It’s awful-tasting, stupid, watery Italian coffee.

A Modest Proposal

I cannot control what happens in Italy. If I could, that whole Giorgia Meloni thing would never have happened. Or that Mussolini thing. A while back. Remember that? Mussolini? They have bad coffee in Italy, and they loved Mussolini, because of the trains. Or, even, Cinema Paradiso, that stupid movie that everyone loved. Or Roberto Benigni as Pinocchio.

You see? I don’t care. Do what you want in Italy. It’s none of my business.

I really have no control over what happens in Italy. Or what they call their horrible-tasting coffee. In Italy, they can call their awful coffee whatever they want to call it. So I won’t tell them what to call their coffee in Italy.

They can call it Alon Preiss’s Favorite Drink, if they want to.

La bevanda preferita di Alon Preiss.

But we do not need to follow suit here.

I mean, we don’t call aluminum aluminium. We don’t put people in gaol. There are a lot of people who insist on using the “Oxford comma,” but, let’s face it, every one of them is a traitor.

So we don’t need to call horrible Italian coffee caffé Americano.

Call It What it Is

Call it what it is. Caffé Annacquato. Watered-down, watery, diluted, awful-tasting, dribbly coffee.

The next time you go into a coffee place and the barrista suggests an Americano, look them in the eye and say, “You’re still saying Americano? No one says Americano anymore. There’s nothing Americano about it. Cultural appropriation! What are you, some kind of imperialist? The correct term is Caffé Annacquato.”

Order an Annacquato the next time you are in your stupid local overpriced coffee joint. If they ask what that is, explain it. If they say, “Oh, you mean an Americano,” say, “We are in America! Why are you using the Italian word for America when we are here in @@%# America! Are you a cultural appropriator imperialist? Is this Trump country?”

Make it political. Make Americano incorrect. Make everyone ashamed to say it, ashamed that they ever said it! Make them fear cancellation if they ever, ever, ever say it again.

Things That Piss Me Off, Irrationally

Look, it’s not like I am unduly jingoistic.

I just feel like Americans should be Americans here in America.

We shouldn’t curtsy to the British royal family. We shouldn’t say “Thank you very much indeed” and “I quite like this.”

We shouldn’t say Grazie if someone holds the door for us in New York City. We should just walk through the door and say nothing, and then get in a screaming match with the guy who held the door for us and expected us to thank him. That’s the American way.

I mean, I didn’t vote for Donald Trump. I don’t own an AK-47. But when I am here in America, I am not an Americano. I am an American.

And if you want to water down your horrible Italian coffee, call it what it is: awful-tasting watered-down Italian coffee.

Caffé Annacquato.

Or, if we are really being honest, Caffé Italiano di Merda.

Alon Preiss is the author of A Flash of Blue Sky (2015) and In Love With Alice (2017), which are both available from Chickadee Prince Books.

This column originally appeared in Audere Magazine. Image by Pexels.

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