I think I can say without fear of contradiction that in general there is no city in the world where the coffee experience is better arranged than in Milan. The barmen in the thousands of small cafes around the town are never temps, or students, or would-be actors going through hard times. They know how to make coffee. That’s their life. […] This man —in his early thirties, I’d guess— is at home in his job. He knows all his customers, their likes and dislikes. He is not studying to become a computer programmer or trying to write a novel or taking days off for theater auditions. He works very fast and can talk football or politics as he does so. When you take your cup from his hands you can feel sure that the next few minutes will be exactly the break you were after. And all this is done without that horrible pretension that hangs around the celebrated coffee houses of Paris with their silly red awnings and clutter of wicker chairs. In Milan, at street level at least, everything is natural, busy, fast and right.
Tim Parks, Italian Ways.