Do you love coffee? Are you someone who can’t live without drinking a cup every morning?
Here’s a little guide on how to order coffee in Italy and how to recreate the Italian coffee experience at home with the right beans and the best machines.
The rules when ordering coffee in Italy
Yes, there are coffee rules. These rules distinguish locals from visitors. You can certainly do whatever you want, but I personally enjoy sticking to the local cultural norms.
Consider your first coffee experience in Italy to be an unofficial orientation ceremony! But, before you know what to order and when to order it, you must first understand how:
- In Italy, a café or coffee shop is referred to as a “bar.” The majority are no-name, family-run establishments with just a “BAR” sign in front.
- Most bars require you to pay first, then proceed to the counter to order- hold your receipt!
- In bars, there are two prices: al tavolo (at a table) and al banco (at the counter). Italians spend no more than five minutes in a bar, sip their coffee while standing at the counter, and then go about their business. Save some money by acting like a local and doing the same!
- There are no coffee sizes here. You get what you get.
- A free glass of water is served with each cup of coffee. If the barista does not automatically give it to you, feel free to ask:
Posso avere un bicchere d’aqua, per favore?
Can I have a glass of water, please?
10 Different Types of Italian Coffees Explained
Here are the typical coffee drinks you can find in Italy:
- Caffè: While the word “caffè” simply translates to “coffee,” it also refers to a shot of espresso. It is served in a small cup and is consumed during the day. When you pay, you ask for a caffè rather than an espresso;
- Caffè Ristretto: It’s similar to a regular caffè since it’s a single shot of espresso, but it contains less water, giving it a more concentrated taste;
- Caffè Lungo: Lungo means “long,” but please keep in mind that this is not a caffè Americano. There is more water than in a caffè, but it is the same water that has been run through the espresso beans, rather than hot water added at the end as in the Americano;
- Caffè corretto: A shot of espresso “corrected” with a shot of booze. The most popular additions are a shot of grappa, sambuca, or cognac, but feel free to request your favorite liquor;
- Cappuccino: The cappuccino is perhaps Italy’s most well-known coffee. After all, while there is no such thing as a grande anything in the world of Italian coffee, a cappuccino is a cappuccino anywhere in the world. It’s essentially 1/3 espresso, 1/3 steamed milk, and 1/3 foam;
- Macchiato: A macchiato is the result of espresso and cappuccino having a slightly foamy boy. It’s an espresso with a drop, or two of hot milk served in the same small cup as an espresso. Since it isn’t as milky and creamy as a cappuccino, Italians consider it fine to drink at any time of day;
- Marocchino: Thanks to the genius who combined cocoa and espresso to create the marocchino! In a glass mug dusted with cocoa powder, there’s a shot of espresso, a layer of foam, and a sprinkle of cacao powder. It’s a little milkier than a macchiato;
- Caffè latte: In Italy, if you order just a latte, you could be surprised to be served a tall glass of milk. In Italy, what we call a latte is known as a caffè latte. It’s made with 1/3 espresso, 2/3 heated milk, and a little foam. Since this type of Italian coffee is so milky, Italians would only drink it before 11 a.m., much like a cappuccino;
- Orzo: This is intended to be a coffee replacement for those who can’t drink coffee. It is made from barley and is naturally caffeine-free;
- Caffè al ginseng: It’s espresso with ginseng extract that doesn’t require any additional sweetener. Ginseng naturally boosts energy and is said to increase alertness. It also helps digestion, making caffè al ginseng a perfectly appropriate after-dinner coffee drink.
Best Italian Coffee Brands
If you’re not living in Italy and you want to recreate the experience of Italian coffee at home without the cost of a plane ticket, get your hands on one of these top Italian coffee brands:
Best Italian coffee maker brands
Now, the only thing you’re missing is the best Italian coffee maker. If you want a true Italian espresso machine, then read on.
Italian coffee drinks are a work of art based on tradition and simplicity.
There’s an explanation for why multinational chains haven’t opened here or had much success. Many of the traditional bars have been passed down through families for decades, and the locals place a high value on authenticity.
I put together this handy little guide for how to order coffee in Italy and some small tips for you to have a good time making espresso at home!
Prendiamo un caffè!
Let’s get a coffee!
See also: Italian wine: A beginner’s guide.
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