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Italian Coffees

A Comprehensive Guide to the Different Types of Italian Coffees

When ordering coffee in Italy, the process is not as simple as queuing up at your local Starbucks. Italians are not familiar with the concept of queues, and it is customary to order coffee at the bar and consume it while standing. You won’t find a menu of available coffee drinks, and despite Starbucks’ Italian-sounding terms (such as “venti” meaning “twenty” in Italian, not the size of a coffee), many of the names of Italian coffee types may be unfamiliar to you. Therefore, I have consumed a significant amount of coffee to compile this useful guide on how to order coffee in Italy. Now, you can feel confident about ordering coffee in Italy without sounding inexperienced.

  1. Caffè – Espresso Shot While “caffè” translates to coffee, in Italy, it specifically refers to a shot of espresso. It is served in a small cup and can be enjoyed throughout the day. Instead of ordering “un espresso,” simply ask for “un caffè.”

You can also try “caffè corretto” (corrected coffee), which is an espresso shot “corrected” with a shot of liquor. Common additions include grappa, sambuca, or cognac, but you are free to request your preferred liquor. Adding a shot of Irish cream is always a delicious option.

  1. Cappuccino – Italy’s Famous Coffee Cappuccino is perhaps the most famous Italian coffee worldwide. Unlike the size-based ordering system in some countries, a cappuccino remains the same everywhere. It consists of equal parts espresso, steamed milk, and foam, creating a balanced blend of flavors and textures.

In Italy, food and beverages are consumed at specific times and in a particular order due to their impact on digestion. Due to the significant milk and foam content, Italians consider a cappuccino a meal in itself and traditionally do not consume it after 11 am. However, the rumors of being judged or denied a cappuccino are baseless, and you can enjoy this delightful beverage at any time. Personally, I have ordered cappuccinos after both lunch and dinner, and it remains one of my favorite Italian coffee choices.

  1. Macchiato – Espresso with a Touch of Milk A macchiato is a delightful blend of an espresso and a small amount of hot milk. It is served in the same small cup as an espresso. Since it is less milky and frothy than a cappuccino, you can enjoy a macchiato at any time of the day.
  2. Marocchino – Espresso with a Cocoa Twist Credit goes to the brilliant mind in Alessandria for inventing the marocchino, which combines cocoa and espresso. This delightful creation includes a shot of espresso, a layer of foam, and a sprinkle of cacao powder in a glass mug dusted with cocoa powder. It has a slightly creamier texture compared to a macchiato. In Northern Italy, where I live, we mix thick hot chocolate with espresso and pour the foam on top.
  3. Caffè Latte – A Creamy Espresso and Milk Combination If you order a latte in Italy, you might be surprised to receive a tall glass of milk. What you call a latte in the US is known as “caffè latte” in Italy. It consists of 1/3 espresso, 2/3 heated milk, and a little foam. Due to its milkiness, Italians typically consume a caffè latte before 11 am, similar to a cappuccino.
  4. Shakerato – Italy’s Iced Coffee The shakerato is Italy’s

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