Five Key Rules for Ordering Coffee in Italy (Don’t Walk into an Italian Bar Without Them)

An American walked into an Italian coffee bar . . . there’s a lot of jokes that start that way. And you don’t want to be one of them. Follow this guide to fare una bella figura (make a good impression).

An American walked into an Italian coffee bar . . . there’s a lot of jokes that start that way. And you don’t want to be one of them. Follow this guide to fare una bella figura (make a good impression).

Rule No. 1: Cappuccino is for breakfast

It’s sad, but true. If you order a cappuccino after 10 or 11 a.m., you’ll get a funny look. The same goes for lattes. Italians believe too much milk unsettles your stomach after food.

 

Rule No. 2: You pay before or after . . . but it depends

To order a drink you either tell the cashier your drink (and food) order and then present the receipt to the barista, or you enjoy your coffee at the bar and tell the cashier what you had on the way out. The only way to know for sure is to watch the other customers.

 

Rule No. 3: It’s more expensive to sit down

It always costs 20-50% more to sit at a table and have waiter service than to stand at the bar. Unless you see other patrons doing it, don’t order at the bar and take your drinks to a table.

 

Rule No. 4: There is no such thing as drip coffee

An Americano is just a shot of espresso with hot water poured into it. In fact, they’ll often just serve you espresso in a larger cup with a teapot of water.

 

Rule No. 5: They don’t (usually) do flavored coffee

There are no vanilla or hazelnut lattes in Italian coffee bars, but you can often get nutella or hazelnut paste in your espresso (café gianduja or nocciola). In northern Italy, particularly in Torino, you can find a vast number of specialty coffee drinks at specialty cafes (not your average local bar).

What to Order



If you want a latte . . . ask for a latte macchiato (milk “marked” with espresso). If you just say latte, you’ll just get a glass of milk. These typically come very milky, so if you want the equivalent of a “double latte,” ask for a latte macchiato scuro (a dark one).

If you want a cappuccino . . . be forewarned that they are far smaller than American cappuccinos, with less milk and thicker foam.

If you want an espresso . . . and it’s too bitter ask for a café con panna (espresso with cream, usually freshly whipped) or a macchiato. A café macchiato in Italy is just espresso with a very small dab of steamed milk on the top. If you prefer more milk, ask them to leave the steamer (lascia la latte).

If you want an iced coffee or a frappuccino . . . the closest thing is a delightful summer drink called a café shakerato (espresso shaken with some milk or cream). In the summer, most bars also serve granita, which is a sort of espresso-flavored snow cone. Recently a slushy-like frozen drink similar to a frappuccino has also appeared in most Italian bars in the summer.

And if you like what you’ve been reading, like us on Conde Nast Traveler’s Travel Specialists List, where I’ve appeared for the last five years straight.

in Cultural Hits: 17388 0 Comments

Comments

  • No comments made yet. Be the first to submit a comment

Leave your comment

Guest Thursday, 27 July 2017

Accolades

2008 - 2012 CONDÉ NAST TRAVELER ITALY SPECIALIST

conde nast top travel Specialist 2008conde nast top travel Specialist 2009conde nast top travel Specialist 2010conde nast top travel Specialist 2011conde nast top travel Specialist 2012

2009 - 2016 TRAVEL + LEISURE A-LIST

a list 2009a list 2010a list 2011a List 2012a List 2013a List 2014a List 2015A List 2016 blue

View Brochure

  • Brochure see
  • Brochure smell
  • Brochure hear
  • Brochure touch
  • Brochure taste