Ditch the Americano: How to Order Coffee in Italy

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Ordering coffee in Italy isn’t difficult but it is different than in North America.

If you depend on caffeine each morning ordering coffee in Italy may be one of the most frustrating aspects of your holiday.

I’m not particular as long as it has caffeine but I had to laugh when Michael from Go See Write was frustrated that his cafe normal wasn’t an Americano.

How to Order Coffee in Italy

Traditional fresh baked Danish croissants and cup of black coffee.Selective focus on the front croissant

Perhaps the single defining difference of coffee in Italy is that it is often consumed while standing.

This is something that never occurs in North America unless it’s in a disposable cup while walking down the street.

Italian coffee shop


Asking for coffee or normal coffee is an espresso. Espresso is served on a saucer with a small spoon.

Often you will also have a complimentary chocolate or biscuit.

Sometimes you are given a small glass of water.

Some Italians say it is to cleanse your palate before drinking the coffee and others say it is for afterwards to refresh.

Caffè Hag

Decaf espresso.


Espresso with a bit of steamed milk. Italians only drink this for breakfast, never in the afternoon.

Caffè Latte

Most similar to a latte, hot milk with espresso in a large glass.

Caffè Americano

Most similar to American coffee, it’s espresso diluted with hot water and served in a larger cup.

While this may be available don’t be fooled, Italians do not drink this, it is only for tourists.

Rustic mug of coffee on wooden background

Caffè Americano Decaffeinato

American decaf.

Caffè Macchiato

An espresso with a bit of milk, sometimes foamed.

Caffè Shakerato

Coffee with ice and sugar shaken like a cocktail.

Caffè Coretto

The most fun of them all, espresso with a shot of liqueur.

Pin it For Later: Italian Coffee

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Join the Conversation

  1. Nice tips! I don’t drink coffee myself, but I did think it was funny that tourists accidentally asked for a ‘milk’ by requesting a ‘latte’ when they were in Italy! It’s also amazing how much of the stuff the locals can put away!

    1. Steve Ham says:

      Oops. Latte is not incorrect, and may be what you want; yes that is just hot milk. Latte Macchiato is “milk dirtied” which is a “latté” in the states. Furthermore espresso Macchiato is “espresso dirtied” what is referred to above as caffeé Macchiato. I have never said the word caffeé or I don’t get what I want.

      In the end, my only goal is to communicate with the people here in the hotel breakfast areas… the phrase I have given here they understand, and have been verified for me by locals.

  2. I love discovering the coffee culture in different countries. We noticed a lot of the stand up to sip places this year in our travels.

  3. Chanel | Cultural Xplorer says:

    Great tips for my next trip to Italy 🙂 The only drink I had during my trip was an espresso 😀 Now when I return I will be better prepared to order more drinks!

  4. Andrea Anastasiou says:

    As a caffeine lover, I dream of going to Italy to sample the java delights. Thanks for the tips!

  5. Stephanie - The Travel Chica says:

    I love coffee now, but I was too young to appreciate it when I traveled to Italy in high school. Definitely have to go back!

    1. Just coffee.

  6. Great list! I always found myself ordering a caffe or latte on prior trips to Italy, but on this last one, I fell in love with the machiato!

  7. On my next trip to Italy, I will be now armed with some important coffee knowledge thanks to this blog! 🙂

  8. Milena Yordanova says:

    Helpful tips! I just love the Italian coffee, especially caffè macchiato. 🙂

  9. man, the post is good, but in italy there are a lot of coffee type more. First, corretto, with 2 R, second, latte macchiato, a glass of milk wit an espresso; Macchiatone: between a cappuccino and a macchiato… middle size; ristretto: between nothing and an espresso 🙂 ; caffè lungo: an espresso with more water; caffè al vetro: a normal espresso but in glass, not in ceramic cup; marocchino: espresso with chocolate topping and foamy milk….

    Bye 😉

  10. Yum..Yummy

  11. you miss:
    – macchiatone
    – macchiato chiaro
    – macchiato freddo
    – al gingseng
    – macchiato scuro
    – mokaccino
    – marocchino
    – latte macchiato
    – ristretto
    – lungo
    – cappuccino
    – gocciato
    – napoletano
    – doppio
    – affogato

  12. Hey, someone from here! We’re not so strict. You can have cappuccino after 11 o’clock! (But after dinner is still too much to accept). An additional tip: there’s just as standard format (I’ve recently heard a tourist asking a large cappuccino).

  13. Tracy Ferguson says:

    Hey there,
    Thanks for this wonderful post,i have learnt some very nice things from this post . I love coffee very much and Italian is one of my favourite. I will Definitely try latte Macchiato on my next trip to Italy.

  14. Italian coffee maker says:

    I am in love with coffee from 2-3 years and it’s really a thing that gives amazing re-laxness.Can’t wait to try these two!

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