The Essential Guide to Ordering Coffee in Italy
When reclining at our holiday villas in Tuscany with a pool, a fruity cocktail of choice may quench your thirst. However, for those mornings when you’re feeling a little bit drowsy, you’ll need to know where to locate a decent cup of coffee. Luckily, Italians shaped the way the coffee industry is today, not only by coining the names but by also creating the first espresso machine way back in 1884!
In Italy, it is highly unlikely that you’ll find yourself ordering anything that you’d stereotypically find on at your local Starbucks, but there is still a myriad of options for you to pick from. If the concept of ordering your breakfast cappuccino seems daunting to you, take a look at our tips below to ensure that you buy the best coffee every time.
The process of ordering your coffee in Italy relies heavily on your knowledge of what to say, so asking the barista for a latte might leave you disappointed when you’re presented with a glass of warm milk. The wording is relatively simple and recognisable, for example, drinks such as macchiato, cappuccino and Americano remain the same. However, you’ll unlikely hear the person next to you ordering an espresso, as that is seen as more of a technical term for the coffee.
Nevertheless, if you hear the word caffè when ordering, bear in mind that it is used as a replacement for the word espresso. This word can be seen placed before the word latte, for a warm milk and espresso combination, as well as in conjunction with other words to describe the coffee used in their order.
Some additional options that are ordered on a slightly less regular basis include caffè coretto, which is an espresso with a shot of liqueur and caffè shakerato, which is closest to what we know as a frapuccino, although it is served in a champagne glass!
In most coffee bars in Italy, you can expect to pay for your drink of choice up front. Once paid for, you take your receipt to the barista who will prepare your drink for you. The standard price that you should expect for a caffè is around €0.80, and the low price is down to the fact that most Italians drink around 7 cups a day.
Another thing to consider is the time in which you are buying your coffee. Most baristas would frown upon you purchasing a cappuccino, or any other milk-based coffee after 10 am. This is due to the Italian belief that whole milk has a negative impact on the digestion system.
In Italian culture, drinking coffee is seen as more of a quick pick me up, as opposed to a coffee shop culture of people with their laptops in tow. Known as una pausa, you’ll most likely see drinkers propped up against the bar, drinking their caffè in no more than three sips. In fact, in most Italian coffee shops you can expect to pay an inflated rate for your coffee of sometimes up to 50% extra if you choose to sit.
Also, unlike international coffee shops where a variety of sized coffees are available, cups are standardised in Italy, so expect the same size and no alternative options wherever you go. Due to the speed in which Italians drink their coffee, and also how regular, they don’t see the need for extra large sizes which would be typical in places such as America and the U.K. Instead, drink your caffè in less than three minutes for the authentic experience.
Lastly, you’ll likely be presented with a glass of water to accompany your coffee. This is often seen with espressos because they have such a strong flavour and the water is needed as a palate cleanser before you enjoy your drink. This allows the strong flavours and aromas of the coffee to come out and hopefully will allow you to enjoy your drink better.