Ordering coffee in Italy at an Italian espresso bar can be daunting even though we all now know the words Barista, atteratte Machiatto, Grande, Espresso, Americano, and Cappuccino thanks to one coffee chain. This guide to coffee in Italy is here to quell your fears. In case it isn’t common knowledge those words are Italian, and said chain is supposedly originated from the common Italian espresso bar. Now, Starbucks and Italian bars are two entirely different operations.
Try ordering a caramel Frappuccino and watch the look of degust that wipes across your barista’s face in Italy. So, vastly different that Starbucks can barely be found in Italy because of fear that the Italian coffee goers will turn their nose up at it.
As with all things Italian, an unwritten list of laws must be adhered to when visiting espresso bars. As with many westerners your first visit to a busy bar can be daunting so let’s break down the rules.
How to Order Coffee in Italy
Coffee is made to be drank standing up. This is not a hard rule, but ordering an espresso and sitting down with it will certainly get some stares.
The most common words in Italian bar culture. Meaning one espresso. This is what Italians will be ordering 90% of the time, and how they will be ordering it. Yes, you can add sugar. No, you cannot sit down. If required you can order a “doppio,” a double espresso.
At many busy Italian espresso bars you are expected to pay the cashier beforehand. You will receive your ticket and you can then give your tickets to busy baristas at the counter who will promptly serve you.
Coffee is Good to Go
Italian coffee doesn’t come in large quantities and is served just hot enough for immediate consumption. There is no sipping on your coffee for hours here. It is made to be enjoyed but in quick fashion.
Forget About Takeaway Coffee
You’re first question would probably pertain to work, but there is always time for a coffee with the Italians. It’s unlikely you’ll get a takeaway coffee cup in Italy. So sit back and enjoy your espresso quickly.
Cappuccinos in the Morning
Cappuccinos, because of the milk, are considered a morning only thing. It is meant to be had as a breakfast drink and is much too heavy to be had any later in the day. You won’t find an Italian drinking a cappuccino after noon. Personally, I don’t give a damn. Cappuccinos are just too good to have to be limited to only mornings, call me a tourist.
Don’t Mess With the Coffee
Please do not ask for a caramel shot, vanilla, chocolate, or some other sugar-free monstrosity. You may ask for some cocoa on top of your cappuccino, and that is all.
Say it With Me – E-S-PRESSO
This one probably pertains to American’s mostly, but I’ve heard it many, many, many times pronounced as e-X-presso. It is spelled with an “s,” pronounce it as such.
Latte Means Milk
If you order a latte expect to get a glass of warm milk, which is what latte means in Italian. You can ask for a “Latte Macchiato,” which is typically a large glass of milk with one shot of espresso. If you want the closest thing to your average Starbucks latte ask for a “Latte Macchiato Scuro” (A dark one), comes with two shots of espresso.
What Does a Coffee in Italy Typically Cost?
What to Pack for Italy
What to wear in Italy is one of the first things to consider once you plan the basics of your first trip to the country. Packing can be simple.
Generally, Italians are stylish and we recommend dressing casually that way you’re comfortable when hanging out with locals.
Plan Your Trip to Europe
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- Travel Backpack: We like the Nomatic Travel Backpack for our travels. Check the price here.
- Rent a Car: We use Discover Cars to find the best deals on car rentals. See our rental car tips here.
- Travel Adapter: You’ll want a Universal Travel Adapter for traveling around Europe. Get one before you land to save the headache of searching for one when you land in Europe.
- Hotels.com: Is our favorite hotel booking platform. Compare rates here.