How To Order and Drink Coffee in Italy

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.

Coffee in Italy

How to Order Coffee in Italy

Stand Up

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.

“Un café”

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.

Coffee Time!

Pay Beforehand

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.

Cappuccinos in Italy
The classic cappuccino.

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.

Italian Coffee Guide

What Does a Coffee in Italy Typically Cost?

Caffe Macchiato€0.8
Latte Macchiatto€1.3
Caffe Fredo€1

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.

Italian Guidebook

We love to have a guidebook when traveling. We spend enough time attached to our phones in everyday life and planning our trips. Once we reach a destination like Italy, we put the phone away and pick up a guidebook to help with our trip.

Travel Insurance

We don’t travel without travel insurance and neither should you. You never know what can happen in a foreign country and it’s best to be prepared. World Nomads provides good short term coverage.

SafetyWing is perfect for digital nomads. See our full review here!


Remember that Italy uses both the  “Type L ” Italian adapter and the Europlug. Many adapters are interchangeable, so make sure you find a good one like the one I have to keep you charged.

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Thanks For Reading

Travel in Italy

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