So you’re going to Italy and you want to know how to order a coffee. Okay, well, first things first. If you ask for coffee, “un caffé,” you will get an espresso. It will be “short” and dark and may have a lovely golden rim around it. If you want something more akin to what you drink at home, you could ask or caffé americano or caffé lungo, and they’ll water down your espresso, but why would you want to do that? Caffé macchiato is an espresso “stained” with a little milk.
Now maybe you’re thinking, well, you’ll just order cappuccino then, and that’s a great idea, as long as it’s for breakfast or no later than mid-morning. Italians don’t drink cappuccino after that point, only espresso — in terms of coffee. So, when in Rome….or Florence or Naples…remember that cappuccino ordered late in the day will mark you as a tourist, as will a decaf order (caffé hag or decafinato), something that’s not all that common in Italy.
If you really want to drink coffee like an Italian, order it standing at the bar (al banco), which will be much cheaper than a sit-down coffee. You place your order, get a receipt, turn that in to get your coffee order, and then knock it back, like a shot. If it’s morning and you’d like a sweet treat to go with your caffé, I highly recommend cornetto, a lovely croissant-type pastry, sometimes filled with cream. I ate one every single morning with my cappuccino for 11 days straight when I was in Rome. Bellísimo!
We’ll be ordering lots of coffee on our 13-day food-faith pilgrimage of Italy. Want to join us or learn more? Click HERE.