Monday, October 19, 2009

How to REALLY drink Coffee - the Italian way!

The Italians have the art of drinking coffee honed to perfection - They have their rituals and expectations that are strictly adhered to so if you are in Italy, you should be aware of them!

For example, the use of  word espresso. This a technical term in Italian, not an everyday one. As espresso is the default setting and single the default dose, a single espresso is simply known as un caffè. If you want an 'espresso'  you can simply ask for a "caffe" and remember to drink in quickly. Espresso is not made to sip casually, it is made to be drunk in two or three sips at most.

Coffee is not  can be served by itself and is generally served after a meal, with the exception of breakfast. Any coffee after breakfast should not have milk in it (unless it is a macchiato)and cappuccino orders after 11 am are often laughed at.(corrections accepted, thanks Simona !)

Requesting a mint frappuccino in Italy is like asking for a single malt whisky and lemonade with a swizzle stick in a Glasgow pub. There are but one or two regional exceptions to this rule that have met with the blessing of the general coffee synod.
In Naples, you can order un caffè alla nocciola – a frothy espresso with hazelnut cream.
In Milan you can impress the locals by asking for un marocchino, a sort of upside-down cappuccino, served in a small glass which is first sprinkled with cocoa powder, then hit with a blob of frothed milk, then spiked with a shot of espresso.

Coffee is generally served in a way that allows you to down it in a couple of shots - there is no lingering and sipping slowly!

I got most of this information from Life in Italy and the Telegraph - check the site out to learn how to REALLY enjoy your coffee!

Popular coffees ordered in Italy:

Espresso : known a Caffe in Italy, served in a 3 oz or demitasse cup. Strong in taste with a rich bronze froth known as a crema on top.
Doppio : Simply a double espresso.
Ristretto: More concentrated than a regular espresso that is made with less water.
Lungo or Caffe Americano: An Espresso made with more water - opposite a Ristretto.
Macchiato: Espresso that is "marked" with a dollop of steamed milk on top.
Corretto: Espresso that is "corrected" with grappa, cognac or sambuca.
Cappuccino: Espresso with foamed milk and containing equal parts espresso, steamed milk and foamed milk.Usually drunk in the morning (never after a meal)
Cappuccino scuro: Cappuccino prepared with less milk and is a darker color.
Cappuccino chiaro: Cappuccino prepared with more milk (but less than a caffe latte) and is lighter in color.
Caffe' latte: Espresso made with more milk than a cappuccino but only a small amount of foam. In Italy it is usually a breakfast drink.
Latte macchiato: Steamed milk that is "marked" (sometimes ornately) with a shot of espresso coffee.


  1. Oh nice post and wow on the new layout!

  2. Nice post! My favourite is a latte macchiato :-)

  3. Interesting, thanks for the info.


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