Italian Coffee: How to Order in Italy

September 27, 2017

How to Order Italian Coffee in Italy

Do you love coffee? Like you can’t start your day, right without your cup of Jo? And if you are sans that cup of coffee then your whole day is thrown off track? Well, if you’re in Italy then you’re among like-minded people. 

We all know caffeine gives the body a good start to the day and helps our minds and body become alert and energized. Which is why this is the perfect morning beverage to wash away the sleep and kick-start your day with a boost. However, you may be surprised to learn that it is common in Italy to enjoy an espresso not only for breakfast but after lunch and dinner as well!

Italian men and women not only drink espresso to start their day, but they also drink it to help digest their food at the end of each meal. Many people find that drinking such a strong drink after dinner is a little unusual but on your visit to Italy you may want to try it Italian-style. When in Rome, right?

There is a little catch to ordering a coffee in Italy. And you may be surprised at how tricky such a simple request can be. So I’ve written a quick “know-how” post to help you on your way to enjoying your cup of coffee Italian-style. 

Pro Tip: Starbucks is popping up more and more all over the world but you may be surprised that there are very, very few stores in Italy. And you can forget about ordering a frappe mocha cappuccino latte with whip cream. Not happening here, guys.

CafFé vs Café VS BAr

To start, the word Café is an American term for a coffee shop. However, in Italy, if you are looking for a coffee shop you should ask for a Bar. A Bar is a store you go to buy coffee, pastries, soda, or a panini (sandwiches). In Italy caffé means coffee.

How to order a cup of coffee in Italy:

An espresso is the most widely prepared coffee in Italy and is usually enjoyed standing at the counter, rather than sitting at a table. If you want an espresso simply as for a Caffé. This hot beverage is the most typical way an Italian will enjoy his or her morning beverage. Try it out, you may be surprised how enjoyable such a small, strong drink can be.

If you want a “normal” cup of coffee you should as for a Caffé Americano. The barista prepares it by making an espresso then adding hot water. You should specify if you would like milk with your cup. Just add “con latte” which means “with milk.” They might give the milk on the side or just add it to the cup for you.

If you want a decaf espresso you should as for a Caffé Decaffeinato.

American Decaf is called Caffé Americano Decafféinato.

Cappuccino is a popular drink but according to some Italian friends of mine, it is only meant to be enjoyed in the morning. You can, of course, order a cappuccino at any time of day, but you may be given a confused look from the barista at the counter. 

A Caffé Macchiato is made as an espresso with milk, sometimes foamed.

While a Caffé Latte, is similar to a latte, it is an espresso with added hot milk in a large glass.

Iced coffee is not something you see very often in Italy but the good news it does exist! Mostly enjoyed as a summertime beverage it can also be available in the winter. It is called a Caffé Shakerato. Prepared like a cocktail in a metal shaker but without alcohol.

But if you are looking for a “hard coffee” – coffee with alcohol – you can ask for a Caffé Corretto which is an espresso with a shot of liquor – grappa, anis, or Amaro.

Each of these beverages is often enjoyed at breakfast with a sweet pastry or taken al la carte.

Would you like to learn more about Italian cuisine? Check out my favorite Tuscan place for good eats: Sagona: A Farm to Table Restaurant.

    1. I”m not a huge coffee drinker, I usually drink tea. I love the way coffee smells tho. Occasionally I’ll have it ice or with mocha. I’ll keep this in mind for when we go as the hubs is a huge coffee drinker. Thanks!

      1. Cheers! I am generally the same I prefer tea but I like to enjoy a foamy cappuccino every once in a while. I haven’t had the iced coffee one yet. I want to try it Italian style.

    1. Italy is basically my second home and my first time there, I learnt very quickly that ordering a large latte is ordering a large cup of milk. Luckily I like milk!

    1. These are awesome tips for ordering coffee in Italy! Great point about “Bar” vs. Cafe. I think in Italy, it’s best to drink the local coffee and not Starbucks ::

    1. Good post! I moved to Italy in 2015 and wasn’t a fan of coffee before I went. I quickly converted! Sometimes I had as many as five espressos a day 😉 After meals and also during breaks and meetings. For only 80 or 90 cents, it’s such a bargain 🙂

    1. For my first two years or so in Italy I devoured espresso but now all I ever want is a cup of American drip coffee… crazy, I know! My cravings got so bad that I even got some instant coffee from the states to bring back with me… Ha!!

    1. A really helpful post for people travelling to Italy and surrounding European countries! People like me, who are huge fans of Starbucks’ caramel macchiatos, would be in for a big surprise in Italy.

    1. This is so great. I remember asking someone for a latte in Naples and it completely went over their heads. They brought me a glass of warm milk. It was such a funny experience but after that, I took ordering and appreciating coffee culture in Italy (and Europe for that matter) more seriously. 🙂

    1. Great guide Lindsey! I wish I had seen this before we had gone we just tried everything and it was all very tasty! What do you usually get for your order? I pinned your post :).

      1. Thank you Hanna! It’s fun to go into a new experience without knowing anything. I love a good cappuccino. Now that I am living in Italy I drink coffee more often. I think it’s because of the high-quality selection.

    1. Like Hanna said, wish I had read this before we went to Italy, guess we’ll just need to remember it for when we eventually go back!

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