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.