Ordering a Coffee in Italy
Italy is serious about its coffee and the beloved coffee rituals that surround it. This is for good reason! Some of the best espresso in the world can be found in Italy and ordering coffee in Italy is an experience that no coffee lover should miss. This beginner’s guide to ordering coffee in Italy will help you face the potential caffeine culture shock.
The first thing you need to know about ordering coffee in Italy is that Italians do not differentiate between a café that serves coffee and a bar that serves alcoholic beverages. The Italian words il caffè and il bar can be used interchangeably, and most places serve both types of beverage. Don’t waste precious time on the streets of Italy searching for an American style coffee shop. You won’t be successful, and you’ll miss out on the atmosphere of il bar.
At the bar, Italians spend time with companions throughout the day, enjoying coffee and the company of those around them. Drinking coffee is about much more than filling a need for caffeine. In Italy, it is an important social activity. Italians never take their coffee “to-go” and they only consume it standing at tables or at the bar.
If you have ever stepped into an American coffee shop, you will probably recognize a few items on the menu in Italy. Espressos, cappuccinos, macchiatos, and lattes are now ingrained in American coffee culture. Other menu items, like caffè coretto and caffè lungo, may not be familiar, but they could be exactly what you’re craving. Here are a few items regularly found on the menu in Italy:
- Caffè – If you’re looking for an Italian classic, this is the drink for you. Caffè is a single shot of espresso that is served in a small cup. This type of coffee is acceptable to order at any time of the day.
- Cappuccino – This rich, foamy Italian espresso drink consists of equal parts espresso, steamed milk, and milk foam. Cappuccinos are considered a breakfast drink, and they shouldn’t be ordered after 11:00 a.m., unless you’re prepared to be judged by the locals.
- Caffè latte – The name of this drink literally translates to “cloudy coffee.” This smooth, creamy drink consists of one shot of espresso mixed with two shots of steamed milk. The coffee is then topped off with a thin layer of milk foam. Warning: don’t forget to order a caffe latte. If you order a latte, you’ll be given a cold, glass of milk.
- Caffè macchiato –Order a caffè macchiato, or a “marked coffee” if you want a rich espresso taste with a dash of milk and a bit of milk foam. This is another great drink to order any time of the day.
- Caffè corretto –This drink’s name literally translates to “corrected coffee,” and it includes a shot of alcohol. Be sure to ask the bartender for a liquor recommendation.
- Caffè lungo – This drink consists of espresso with a splash of hot water. It translates to “long coffee.”
- Caffè Americano –This drink is the American version of the caffe lungo. It isn’t particularly popular among Italians because the espresso is diluted by several ounces of hot water.
If you arm yourself with these insights into Italian coffee culture, you’ll feel much more prepared to order coffee in Italy. Have fun and embrace the experience!