Italian Coffee Lesson 101
Christy, SAI Florence
May 20, 2017

Italians love their coffee, and each person likes it in their own particular way. There are probably hundreds of different ways to order coffee here. All coffee drinks in Italy consist more or less of simple ingredients: espresso and milk.

The True Classics:

  • un caffè: single shot of espresso. Also referred to as “caffè normale”
  • un caffè macchiato: single shot of espresso with a dash of steamed milk
  • un caffè americana: single shot of espresso with hot water
  • un cappuccino: single shot espresso with steamed and foamy milk
  • un latte macchiato: steamed milk with a single shot of espresso
  • un caffè latte: steamed milk, a dash of foam and a single shot of espresso

Student Blogger, Jamie, Fall 2015

Some Popular Coffee Orders:

  • un caffè doppio: double shot of espresso
  • un caffè lungo: a “long” shot of espresso. It is made by draining more water when making the coffee, producing a longer shot of espresso; not to be confused with the Americano which has hot water added to it.
  • un caffè ristretto: a “small” shot of espresso that is a strong, very concentrated coffee.
  • un caffè corretto: single shot of espresso “corrected” with a dash of liquor (like grappa, cognac, baileys, sambuca.)
  • un caffè freddo: an iced single shot of espresso
  • un caffè shakerato: a shaken cold single shot of espresso with milk served often in a martini glass. If you would it with sugar ask for it “zuccheratro”.
  • un caffè macchiatone: a single “long” shot of espresso with a dash of steamed milk in a big cup. It is a cross between a cappuccino and a caffè macchiato!
  • un caffè macchiato freddo:  a single shot of espresso with a dash of cold milk. If you ask for a simple caffè macchiato the milk is served steamed.
  • un caffè d’orzo: an decaffeinated drink, made from barley coffee. You can get this long or short and often it is served with a slice of orange.
  • un caffè decaffeinato: a shot of decaffeinated espresso
  • un caffè al ginseng: often prepared by ginseng machines that mixes milk, espresso and ginseng extract. Ginseng has a nutty spicy flavor kind of similar to a chai tea.

Student Blogger, Talia, Spring 2016

Coffee Drinks with Chocolate, because yum:

  • un caffè marocchino: a single shot of espresso, dash of steamed foamy milk & dark chocolate powder & syrup served in a small glass cup to show off all the layers.
  • un caffè mocaccino: a single shot of espresso with whipped cream and chocolate, served in a glass cup in order to show off all the layers of this drink.
  • con cacao: with powdered dark chocolate shaken on top. You can order most all coffee drinks with dark chocolate powder shaken on top. Ex.: un caffè con caco, un cappuccino con cacao, etc.
coffee 3

Student Blogger, Sheena, Spring 2016

More Coffee:

  • un caffè schiumato: a single shot of espresso with a dash of foamy milk – not to be confused with caffè macchiato! The caffe schiumato has only the foam!
  • un cappuccino scuro: a cappuccino with a “long” shot of espresso. However, be aware it is not a double shot of espresso!
  • un cappuccino chiaro: a cappuccino with a “small” shot of espresso. There is more milk than the classic cappuccino.
  • un cappuccino con caffè doppio: a cappuccino with a double shot of espresso
  • un caffè con panna: a single shot of espresso with whipped cream
  • *con latte di soia: with soy milk. You can order any of the coffee drinks that contain milk with soy milk. Ex: caffè macchiato con latte di soia, capuccino con latte di soia, caffè latte con latte di soia, latte macchiato con latte di soia etc.

Student Blogger, Madelaine, Fall 2015

In Different Cups:

You can order pretty much all of the coffees just mentioned but in different kinds of cups…

  • in tazza grande: in a big cup
  • in tazza piccola: in a small cup
  • in vetro: in a glass cup
  • in tazza ghiacciata: in a cold cup
  • in tazza bollente: in a hot hot cup
  • da portare via: in a cup to take away. This is commonly ordered when you would like to bring your friends or colleagues a coffee and they are not with you at the bar. It is not that common to order a take away coffee for yourself to drink walking on the streets.

Specific Temperatures:

You can order your coffee and ask for it to be specifically cold, boiling hot or warm!

  • tiepido:  warm
  • bollente: boiling hot
  • ghiacciato: frozen cold

SAI Florence office morning coffee orders: Un caffè al ginseng, un caffè orzo, un caffè macchiatone & un caffè marocchino

Specific Coffee Order Examples:

  • un caffè macchiato in vetro: a single shot of espresso with steamed foamy milk in a glass cup
  • un cappuccino tiepido: a warm cappuccino (not hot!)
  • un caffè correto con grappa in vetro: a single shot of espresso with a shot of grappa in a glass cup.
  • un cappuccino bollente con cacao: a boiling hot cappuccino with chocolate powder

Morning, Afternoon, & Evening Coffee Orders:
Typically, in Italy you do not order a cappuccino, caffè latte, caffè americano or latte macchiato after lunch time. The long coffee drinks with a lot of milk are only ordered in the morning or late in the afternoon as a snack. It is believed to be hard to digest to drink a lot of milk after a meal. Furthermore, it is just seen as odd if you order these kinds of drinks at the “wrong” time. If you would like just a little bit of milk in your coffee after meals, this is perfectly alright, you would order un caffè macchiato.

At the Bar (Coffee Shop):
First of all, here in Italy a coffee shop is called a bar. An American-style bar is referred to as a pub, locale or even bar. Most Italians drink their coffee standing at the bar (al banco). If you would like to sit down to enjoy your coffee, make sure there is no table charge. Often in large squares downtown there will be a charge of up to 10 euros to drink your coffee at a table!


Student Blogger, Jessica

Espresso…Un Caffè Normale:
In Italy you never order an “espresso”. The word “espresso” in Italian means express! The common English word “espresso” in Italian is referred to simply as caffè. In order to state clearly that you want an “espresso” simple with no sugar, milk or anything you can say un caffè normale.

Many bars prefer that you pay at the cashier (cassa) before you order your coffee at the bar. The cashier will give you a receipt; take your receipt to the barista and hand them your receipt when ordering your coffee. When you get to know your local baristas often you can pay after or directly at the bar.

In Italy it is often hard to find proper lines. There are more likely people huddled around the market, bar, shop etc. Baristas try to serve on a first come first serve basis, however be prepared for the loud speakers to push in front of you.

Italians love to go out for a coffee and it is common to meet your colleagues and friends throughout the day for a quick cup of coffee. It is classic Italian etiquette to offer others a coffee. In fact, you will see many Italians fighting over who is going to pay for the coffee that day!


  • An excellent way to make friends with Italians is to offer them a coffee. “Ti offro un caffè!”
  • You can tell how much someone likes you based on how long your coffee break is. Longer is better, even if it is just standing at the bar and not sitting down at a table.

Coffee Bar Vocabulary:

  • Cassa: Cashier
  • Pausa caffè: Coffee break
  • Ti (Vi) posso offrire un caffè: Can I offer you (you all) a coffee.
  • Pago io!: I am paying!
  • Te lo (ve lo) offro io!:  I am offering you a coffee! or It’s on me! (ve lo – used for you plural. te lo – used for you singular)
  • Cosa prendi?: What would you like?
  • Prego: When someone says “Prego” to you at a bar or shop it’s meaning is – “How may I help you?” or “What would you like?”
  • Usciamo per un caffè:  Let’s go out for a coffee.
  • Al banco:  At the (coffee) bar
  • Al tavolo:  At the table
  • Servizio al tavolo:  Table service (you might also see this on their price list, referring to how much it costs to be served at the table)

Thank you to all my colleagues in the Florence office for drinking and suggesting numerous kinds of coffees for this blog and their help photographing our coffee breaks (pausa caffè)!

– Christy is an Assistant Program Coordinator in the SAI Florence Office

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3 responses to “Italian Coffee Lesson 101”

  1. […] Cappuccino Doppio, which is also known as espresso with milk foam, is made by combining espresso with milk foam. Cappuccino is the most popular coffee drink in Italy, in addition to being the most popular coffee drink in Italy. Caff Mocha, an Italian coffee, is widely regarded as genuine Italian coffee. Marocchino espresso is a type of espresso with a cappuccino and hot chocolate flavor. You can eat quickly or leisurely in a cafe, and it’s the ideal place to go. A cafe is also an excellent place to meet up with other people. Italian restaurants are divided into several types based on their names. A trattoria is less formal than a ristorante; a ristorante is more formal than a trattoria. […]

  2. Nice job laying out what is what; one of the better sites that interprets not only the world of espresso, but also the Italian language equivalencies. Thanks.

    by Eric Grandstaff on November 30, 2023 at 6:44 am

  3. Thank you so much! We are so glad it was helpful for you! :)

    by Katie Chappelle on November 30, 2023 at 11:55 am

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