Ordering & Drinking a Coffee in Italy

pouring-espresso Italian Coffee: Pouring an Espresso

When ordering a coffee in Italy keep in mind the differences in price. In many of the nicest piazza in Italy a cappuccino can cost four times as much if you sit at a table than drinking it at the bar. Most Italians drink their coffee quickly at the bar before heading off to work, leaving the tables for the tourists. If you try to order a coffee by asking the bartender, be prepared to give him your receipt. In most places you have to pay for your drink first and then show proof of purchase by giving the bartender the receipt. It sounds silly, but it is an effective way to make sure everyone pays for their order.

For ordering an espresso in Italy, you can simply ask for a “caffe” and remember to drink in quickly. Espresso is not made to sip casually, it is made to be drunk in two or three sips at most. Coffee is not served by itself and is served after a meal, with the exception of breakfast. Any coffee after breakfast should not have milk in it and cappuccino orders after 11 am are often laughed at. However there are numerous varieties of coffee drinks that you can order and all are delicious. This is in no way a complete list as new versions are always being invented or adapted. Here are some of the more popular coffees that you will see ordered in Italy.

Espresso : known a Caffe in Italy, served in a 3 oz or demitasse cup. Strong in taste with a rich bronze froth known as a crema on top.
Doppio : Simply a double espresso.
Ristretto: More concentrated than a regular espresso that is made with less water.
Lungo or Caffe Americano: An Espresso made with more water – opposite a Ristretto.
Macchiato: Espresso that is “marked” with a dollop of steamed milk on top.
Corretto: Espresso that is “corrected” with grappa, cognac or sambuca.
Cappuccino: Espresso with foamed milk and containing equal parts espresso, steamed milk and foamed milk.
Cappuccino scuro: Cappuccino prepared with less milk and is a darker color.
Cappuccino chiaro: Cappuccino prepared with more milk (but less than a caffe latte) and is lighter in color.
Caffe’ latte: Espresso made with more milk than a cappuccino but only a small amount of foam. In Italy it is usually a breakfast drink.
Latte macchiato: Steamed milk that is “marked” (sometimes ornately) with a shot of espresso coffee.

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