Alright ladies and gentlemen, who here has ever ordered a coffee that takes at least 10 seconds to just say the name of it? Don’t be shy, I raise my hand proudly to say I have ordered that “iced, half-caff, venti, 4-pump, sugar-free, cinnamon, dolce soy skinny latte”. However, I’ll be the first to say: keep those fancy drink names out of Italian coffee bars! Here’s a guide on how to order coffee in Italy. And believe us, it’s definitely worth learning about.

There is no place in Italy for all those fancy, sugar-filled drinks, for Italians have mastered the art of simplicity and deliciousness when it comes to coffee. I know, I know, coffee without cream, sugar, or sweetener?! What kind of world produces coffee without this? Well folks, you’d be surprised at just how delicious Italian coffee is when you stick to the rules of coffee that Italians have so kindly created for us.

Caffè or Espresso | Typical Coffee in Italy

If you’re looking for a quick caffeine fix then caffè or espresso is the choice for you! Caffè, meaning coffee in Italian, is a single shot of caffeine that, not exaggerating, could wake a bear from hibernation. Otherwise known as an espresso, this lovely little drink is quite easy to order, all you have to do is tell the cashier you want “un caffè”, or a “doppio” (double espresso) if you’re needing a little extra kick.
Added bonus: a caffè is drunk any time of the day, so the early birds and late risers can both get their caffeine fix.

guide to italian coffee - espresso

Caffè Ristretto | Italian Coffee That Packs a Punch

In a rush? Then the caffè ristretto is perfect for you. Very similar to a caffè, this little kicker consists of one shot of espresso, however, it is much more concentrated because it does not have as much water. So, if you’re in a rush but crave that caffeine buzz, just take a shot of caffè ristretto and off you go!

guide to italian coffee - caffe ristretto

Caffè Lungo | Like an Espresso, But More Of It

Number one rule: do not mistake this for a caffè Americano. While yes, there is more water than coffee, the caffè lungo is not quite to the level of dilution an Americano is. Instead, it fits itself, perfectly between a caffè/espresso and the filtered coffee popular in the US and other countries. How do they do this? Simple, the same water that you drink is run through the espresso grounds instead of added at the end like in an Americano. So, basically, this is just like Starbucks, only smaller and better! Okay maybe not at all actually.

guide to italian coffee - caffe lungo

Caffè Shakerato | Closest Thing to Cold Italian Coffee

Hot coffee in the middle of the summer heat? Yeah…can’t say I’m into that. What I am into though is the caffè shakerato AKA an iced coffee, packed with a punch! If you find yourself in need of a caffeine fix but the idea of drinking something hot has you sweating like a sinner in church, then the caffè shakerato is a good choice for you. Literally meaning shaken up, this delightful concoction is made by taking espresso, shaking it with ice in a cocktail mixer, then pouring it into a taller glass.
A little tip: add some sugar and you won’t be disappointed!

guide to italian coffee - caffe shakerato

Crema di Caffè | More Like an Italian Coffee Dessert

Now, if you are a fan of coffee flavored ice cream, then I have a real treat for you! Translating as “coffee cream”, this delicious blend of espresso, zucchero (sugar), and panna (cream) is churned in a cooling machine until you have a smooth, creamy, melt in your mouth piece of heaven.

guide to italian coffee - crema di caffe

Cappuccino | The Italian Coffee Everyone Loves

Here we have one of the most classic Italian coffee drinks or as I like to call it, my coffee boyfriend. 1/3 espresso, 1/3 steamed milk, and 1/3 foam come together to create an iconic taste that is hard to resist. However, Italians don’t mess around when it comes to the rules of cappuccino consumption. This a strictly a breakfast coffee so it is never drunk after lunch time for the milk will disrupt digestion and we can’t have that! So, no hanky-panky business!

guide to italian coffee - cappuccino

Caffè Macchiato | Cappuccino’s Younger Cousin

Since we’re in the category of breakfast coffees, it would be wrong not to mention the macchiato. A happy blend between a caffè and a cappuccino, this tasty little drink a perfect fit for those who don’t want something as strong as a straight caffè or have as much milk as in a cappuccino. Just remember, the macchiato or “stained/spotted” espresso is usually only drunk in the morning and rarely drunk in the afternoon.

guide to italian coffee - caffe macchiato

Caffè Ginseng | The Non-Coffee

Do you like chai lattes? Well, my friend, then you will love a caffè ginseng! Basically a chai latte, but smaller, it is a mix of espresso and ginseng with a nutty flavor and a sweet taste mixed in. The caffè ginseng is good anytime of the year, but especially delightful around Christmas time!

guide to italian coffee - caffe ginseng

Tips on How to Order Coffee in Italy

Now that you know all the best kinds of coffee Italy has to offer, let’s take the next step together and learn how to order one of these delicious drinks!

  • When looking for a coffee shop, you’re not going to find the popular coffee chains you are most likely used to. Instead, you’ll find that most are family-run businesses that are simply called “bar”. So when looking for your next caffeine fix, just keep your eyes peeled for that “bar” sign!
  • To avoid looking lost when you enter most bars, go to the pay area and pay for your drink first, then bring your receipt to the counter to order.
  • Unlike coffee shops in the US or other countries, bars in Italy often do not have multiple sizes of coffee. Don’t start panicking yet, in some areas, especially touristy areas, you can find bars that serve multiple sizes.
  • Perhaps the most important tip for you is that there are two different prices in bars depending on how you take your coffee. If you want to sit down and savor your coffee you’ll pay al tavolo price, or if you want to try your hand at acting like a local, you’ll pay al banco price to have a quick 5-minute drink at the counter.

Leave a Reply