Caffé: how italians order it!

Visitors to Italy ordering  their first real cappuccino and caffè espresso should remember that they’re in sacred territory.

It is sure we invented the way the rest of the world prepares, serves and drinks coffee!

  • Using our words: cappuccino, latte macchiato, Venti, Grande
  • Using espresso machine steam driven – first pioneered by Angelo Moriondo in Turin in 1884.
  • Fashion note: we have also stylish brands Illy, Lavazza, Bialetti


But let’s starts with how to order caffe!

First of all, only one word and little kindness: un caffé, per favore. in italian coffe bar is an espresso – one strong shot, rarely you ask for espresso- this is obvious.

If we want double shot we ask for a caffe doppio– but rarely people ask for it – better take two coffee one after the other.

Often people ask for a caffé macchiato – that is an espresso with a dash of steamed milk

Cappuccino – the most discussed bar item between Italian bar workers and tourists all over the world, because we all believe that it shouldn’t be drunk after meals, it is a breakfast or late morning drink. I guess, no one is right, the pleasure doesn’t know rules. By the way, a regular Cappuccino is an espresso in a bigger cup, topped with warm frothy milk, optional chocolate powder on top.

To us, caffé Americano is an espresso with added hot water – so is lighter. But, to be completely honest, most of Italians will tell you that caffe Americano is simply a too much watered down espresso.

Always you can ask for a decaf, both espresso and cappuccino

But no size – forget to ask for grande (in Italian means big) or Venti (means twenty) – at any coffe bar doesn’t mean anything, sometime we ask for a tazza grande – big cup.

Latte means milk, so if you ask latte it comes a glass of milk. Caffelatte is a glass of warm milk with some drops of coffee.

Be aware in Italy we do not have the international chains because we are full of independently run café staffed by barista – this is the rule.

Bar is a tradition in all country. And we do not pay more than 1 euro for an espresso. The quality is important and significant, if a bar offer low quality miscela…they risk to lose clients. Espresso must be a heavily roasted, bittersweet flavor with a brown foam or crema on top… experts say!

When we drink a coffee is never to take away – rarely bar offer take-out cups and Italians want to sip in small porcelain cup – but for short pause PAUSA – a coffee break

In fact we are not used to hanging around in bar for hours!

During our bike tours we always plan the pause in the middle of morning to taste a good espresso or Capuccino – this is one highlight of day. Not to mention how important is the caffeine dose for a cyclist, at right moment!

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Coffee diversity  in Italy

Here few minor variations, some of them regional.

caffè corretto is an espresso ‘corrected’ with a slug of liquor, usually grappa, and is taken later in the day.

ristretto is a short espresso with less water but equal potency.

The bicerin is a speciality of the Piedmont region, particularly Turin, and has been around for at least 200 years. It consists of layered espresso, hot chocolate and milk and is served in a glass.

Not dissimilar is the marocchino, another Piedmontese invention but now almost everywhere,  a mix of espresso, cocoa powder and milk froth.

In Puglia region you can taste Caffe leccese, an espresso with almond syrup and the espressino, an espresso-based drink with steamed milk and cocoa or Nutella… a kind of cappuccino in small cup.

In southern region at bars, coffee is often served with a small glass of water the water is supposed to be drunk first to cleanse the palate and taste better the aroma!

Giuliana Mulas