A Guide to 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. So, vastly different that the brand that is everywhere isn’t 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.
Stand UpCoffee 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.
Pay beforehandAt 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.
Good to goItalian 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 to goYou’re first question would probably pertain to work, but there is always time for a coffee with the Italians.
Cappuccinos in the morningCappuccinos 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. Personally, I don’t give a damn. Cappuccinos are just too good to have to be limited to only mornings, call me a tourist.
You don’t mess with coffeePlease 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.
E-S-PRESSOThis 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 MilkIf 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.
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Plan Your Trip to Italy
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- Accommodation in Italy: We like to use Hotelscombined to compare various booking engines and make sure we are getting the best possible deal. To feel more at home in Italy we use Airbnb. Here is a coupon for your first stay!
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- Car Rental in Italy: Auto Europe is a car rental booking service that compares all the major brands like Hertz, Avis, Alamo, and Europcar.
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- Water: We found the water in Italy fine to drink, if you want extra assurance then we love traveling with our Lifestraw Go Waterbottle