In Italy, coffee is serious business.

Belly up to the bar (okay, maybe not too close), stand up straight, place your order confidently, and swig your drug in one swallow… just like the locals.


Remember, Italy isn’t the place to show your personal beverage style. You can expect just a few very simple options. Coffee this well prepared doesn’t need a lot of accessories.


Here are the basics. Study them and make the appropriate choice. Before long, you’ll be ruined. You’ll be just as particular and opinionated as the Italians.



Espresso [es-PRESS-oh]

Order a coffee (“Un caffè , si prega”) in Italy and the default drink is a single shot of espresso. If you want to really be wired make it a double (“Un caffè doppio, si prega”). Oh, and please note: it’s NOT an “EXpresso.” Sure, they do serve the coffee fast, but this is not the correct term.


Caffè Americano [kah-FEH | uh-mer-i-kan-oh]

This is a slightly watered down version of Italy’s classic espresso. Think of it this way: if Italy’s classic coffee and America’s classic coffee had a baby it would be the café Americano.


Lungo [LOON-goh]

The word lungo means “long” in Italian and like the Americano, this drink is a watered down version of the espresso. However, there is a distinct difference between the lungo and Americano. In the lungo, the extra water is brewed. In the Americano, the water is just added at the end.


Ristretto (re-STREH-toh)

Ristretto, which means “restricted” in Italian, is the opposite of a lungo. The ristretto is a short, concentrated shot of espresso. The same amount of coffee beans are used, but the brew is extracted with half the amount of water.


Cappuccino [kahp-poo-CHEE-noh]

The cappuccino is about 1/3 espresso, 1/3 steamed milk, and 1/3 foam. Note: Cappuccinos (and other coffees with milk) are frowned on after the morning hours in Italy because Italians believe that milk after a meal is bad for digestion. If you order one in the afternoon or evening, prepare to defend your choice with the locals or at least drink it in shame.


(Caffè) Latte [kah-FEH | LAHT-the]

The word latte means milk in Italian, so it is important to include the word caffe to the order or you might end up with a tall glass of plain, cold milk. A caffè latte order will get you a glass of tall steamed milk with a shot of espresso in it.


Macchiato [mah-key-AH-toh]

An espresso with a drop or two of hot milk. This is my go to drink in the afternoon because it seems to be so little milk the Italians accept it (and I don’t like my coffee black!).


Marocchino [mah-rohk-KEE-noh]

A shot of espresso, a sprinkle of cacao powder, and a layer of frothy milk. About as fancy as Italian coffee gets.


Caffè Corretto [KAH-feh | coh-REH-toh]

Nightcap anyone? Coffee in Italy is an all day affair of small portions. This shot of espresso with liquor (grappa, brandy, sambuca) is served after dinner.


Italians line up for their morning ritual. It is a very quick stop!


What is your standard drink of choice in Italy?