LIFE/ Catherine Wheeler and her Cappuccino


I do not drink coffee. It is bitter, burnt, and the caffeine has always given my stomach the feeling like it is ripping itself a part.

But, when I planned on studying abroad in Italy for a semester, I started to think I should give coffee a second chance. Italian coffee is nearly equated with seeing the Grand Canyon for the first time. It is speechless awe with a side of unmistakable beauty that of which has not been seen before. Those that have tasted true Italian coffee revel in the taste memory for a lifetime.

So I considered this a good sign. If a single drink is raised to the level of goodness nearly like a wonder of the world, then it was time to take a second look at coffee.

Naturally when I arrived in Viterbo, I wanted to jump into the Italian lifestyle and fully embrace every aspect of this culture. For me, that meant getting some sort of coffee in the morning before I headed to classes.

Of course I was nervous. I was scared I would not like it and then feel awful for not only worrying that not finishing this drink was a sign of disrespect, but also because I was not going to be able to fully experience this aspect of everyday life in Viterbo. 

So I boldly, but nervously, ordered, “Uno cappuccino.” I thought this would be an easy transition into the Italian version of myself. 

When the barista put the steaming beverage on the table, it clinked with the kind of realness I was most excited about experiencing here.

In my tiny little cup was staring back at me luscious white foam, patterned with the rich coffee, peaking through its surface.

Tasting it was like that moment of simple awe. The bitterness I hate so much from the American coffee I have sampled was transformed into a deep, robust flavor of rich, pure coffee. The sweet foam teased its way in with each sip.

And with the clang of the cup back down onto its plate, I understand the obsession with Italian coffee. Its subtle flavor and heartiness kept the taste of overwhelming bitterness at bay, only revealing its simplicity.

The deep brown color is only enhanced by the thickness of the pure espresso itself, shining brightly under the lights of the café as it drips into the cup.

My only sadness will be saying goodbye to it, for a long time when I return home.

Hi! My name is Catherine Wheeler. I study English Writing at Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colorado. This semester I am studying Italian and journalism at Università degli Studi della Tuscia. In my free time, I love to read, cook, and travel.

Ciao! Mi chiamo Catherine Wheeler. Io studio di scrittura in inglese a Fort Lewis College di Durango, Colorado . Questo semestre Sto studiando italiano e giornalismo presso l’Università degli Studi della Tuscia. Nel mio tempo libero, mi piace leggere, cucinare, e viaggi.