The Red Eye: Adventures in Coffee and Travel, by Dü Coffee

How to Order Coffee in Italy.

The definitive guide on ordering coffee in Italian.

Ok, you survived the red-eye flight and just touched down in Italy. Your brain is trashed and you desperately need a cup of coffee to beat-back the jet lag.

Once you clear Italian immigration and grab your bags, you do a bee-line for the nearest coffee shop in the airport arrivals hall.

Everything looks chaotic. How do you order a cup of coffee in Italy?

It's easier than it looks.

Ordering coffee in Italy looks intimidating on your first try. But learn a few simple phrases and you'll be ordering coffee like a local in no time.

It's easy, just scroll down to what you want to order and you'll find the correct Italian pronunciation. We even include audio tracks so you can practice — just click the "SAY IT" button.

Give it a try:   

(Plan Ahead: Bookmark this blog post so you have it handy on your Italy trip!)

What do you want to order?

Click on your favorite espresso drink to jump to the Italian pronunciation:

Order an espresso.

Espresso is the Italian gold standard for coffee.

CAFFÈ

ESPRESSO 7 grams
WATER 1 oz / 30 ml

In Italy, coffee is espresso, and espresso is coffee.

When you order a coffee in Italy in either English or Italian, the barista will prepare you an espresso. It's called a caffè, and the easiest of all coffee drinks to order in Italy.

Keep in mind that most classic Italian coffee bars do not offer drip coffee. Only espresso is on the menu. New specialty coffee bars in big cities can offer drip or a pour-over coffee, and everyone offers espresso.

Here's how you ask for an espresso:

"I would like an espresso, please"

Vorrei un caffè, per favore

vo-RAY oon kaf-AY, pair fah-VO-ray

Order a double espresso.

A double espresso in Italy is twice the coffee and water than a single espresso.

CAFFÈ DOPPIO

ESPRESSO 14 grams
WATER  2 oz / 60 ml

An espresso in Italy is small and concentrated, usually less than 1 ounce of pressed coffee.

Want a little more in your cup? Then order a double espresso, called a caffè doppio:

"I would like a double espresso, please"

Vorrei un caffè doppio, per favore

vo-RAY oon kaf-AY DOH-pee-oh, pair fah-VO-ray

Order a long espresso.

A long espresso is simply a single espresso with more water. Think of it as a mini Americano

CAFFÈ LUNGO

ESPRESSO 7 grams
WATER  2 oz / 60 ml

If you're looking for a single espresso but with just more water, you can order a "long coffee" or a caffè lungo:

"I would like a long espresso, please"

Vorrei un caffè lungo, per favore

vo-RAY oon kaf-AY LOON-go, pair fah-VO-ray

Order a concentrated espresso.

To order a concentrated espresso with just half the usual amount of water, order a caffè ristretto

CAFFÈ RISTRETTO

ESPRESSO 7 grams
WATER  ½ oz / 15 ml

For those who like their espresso highly concentrated, your Italian barista will gladly pull you a shot that's half the volume of a regular espresso.

It's called a caffè ristretto, which means "restricted" espresso — which pretty much describes the process.

Less hot water is forced through the finely ground coffee, resulting in an espresso that tastes sweeter and less bitter because of the shorter extraction time.

Give it a shot, so to speak — and skip adding sugar.

"I would like a concentrated espresso, please"

Vorrei un caffè ristretto, per favore

vo-RAY oon kaf-AY ree-STRAY-toh, pair fah-VO-ray

Order a boozy espresso.

A 'corrected' espresso is simply an espresso with 1 shot of grappa, sambuca or amaro added Cin cin!.

CAFFÈ CORRETTO

ESPRESSO 7 grams
WATER 1 oz / 30 ml
GRAPPA 1 oz / 30 ml

Want to liven up your caffeine hit? Add a shot of booze and you'll have a caffè corretto, or "corrected coffee."

While nobody's sure what's actually being corrected, this is an old-school concoction that's fun to toss back in the afternoon.

Locals spike the occasional espresso with a shot of grappa, Sambuca, or a local boozy amaro. Give it a try.

"I would like an espresso with booze, please"

Vorrei un caffè corretto, per favore

vo-RAY oon kaf-AY koh-RAY-toh, pair fah-VO-ray

Order an American-style coffee.

Caffè Americano is simply espresso with hot water, the closest thing to an American-style coffee

CAFFÈ AMERICANO

ESPRESSO 14 grams
WATER  6 oz / 180 ml

If you want something closer to an American-style of coffee, you can simply order a caffè Americano.

Usually when you ask for an Americano, you get an 8-ounce cup with 1 shot of espresso filled with piping hot water. Sometimes the barista will let you add the water yourself; you'll get your cup with espresso in it and a small pitcher of hot water.

Here's how you order an American coffee in Italy:

"I would like an American-style coffee, please"

Vorrei un caffè Americano, per favore

vo-RAY oon kaf-AY ah-mayr-EE-kah-no, pair fah-VO-ray

Order a cappuccino.

A cappuccino in Italy is the classic 'dry' style.

CAPPUCCINO

ESPRESSO  2 oz / 60 ml
FOAMED MILK  4 oz / 120 ml

A cappuccino is an Italian classic, and it's easy to order.  In Italy you'll get luscious foam and a touch of milk on top of an espresso shot, closer to what we would call a "dry cappuccino." To the Italians, a cappuccino is a cappuccino — there's no "wet" or "dry" version.

Keep in mind that Italians only enjoy milk-based drinks before 11AM, and that includes cappuccino and caffè latte.  Italians think the milk trashes your tummy when you mix it with lunch or dinner, so they skip milk from lunchtime-onward.

That said, you can still order a cappuccino any time you like, though you may see some raised eyebrows.  You're a traveler, they'll understand.

"I would like a cappuccino, please"

Vorrei un cappuccino, per favore

voh-RAY oon kah-poo-CHEE-no, pair fah-VO-ray

Order a latte.

An American-style 'latte' is a 'caffè latte' in Italy, simply hot milk with an espresso shot and a touch of foam on top.

CAFFÈ LATTE

ESPRESSO  2 oz / 60 ml
STEAMED MILK  4 oz / 120ml
FOAMED MILK  ½ oz / 15 ml

If you say "I'd like a latte" in Italy, you'll get a glass of cold milk.

If you want that delicious, creamy milk + espresso drink of home, order a caffè latte instead.

"I would like a caffè latte, please"

Vorrei un caffè latte, per favore

vo-RAY oon kaf-AY LAH-tay, pair fah-VO-ray

Order a mocha.

Italian 'mocha' is called a marocchino, and it has layers of chocolate and coffee flavors.

CAFFÈ MAROCCHINO

ESPRESSO  2 oz / 60 ml
CHOCOLATE  2 oz / 60ml
STEAMED MILK  2 oz / 60 ml

The "mocha" you find in Italy still has the creamy consistency and intense flavor of espresso and chocolate you know and love, but the Italians have a different name for it: caffè marocchino.

The marocchino can be a work of art in the right glass, with layers of chocolate on the bottom, coffee and milk in the middle, and velvety milk foam on top.

Here's how you order it:

"I would like a mocha, please"

Vorrei un caffè marocchino, per favore

vo-RAY oon kaf-AY mah-ro-KEE-no, pair fah-VO-ray

Order a macchiato.

Italian caffè macchiato is marked with milk foam.

CAFFÈ MACCHIATO

ESPRESSO  2 oz / 60 ml
STEAMED MILK  ⅓ oz / 10 ml
FOAMED MILK  ⅓ oz / 10 ml

In Italy, forget what you know about Starbucks' caramel macchiato, the true original is called a caffè macchiato, made with espresso (often a doppio) that's marked ("macchiato") with milk foam.

Italians love caffè macchiato, often taking it in the afternoons and evenings instead of cappuccino and caffè latte.  It's the one exception to the no-milk-after-11AM rule.

Here's how you order a caffè macchiato in Italy:

"I would like an espresso with a little milk foam, please"

Vorrei un caffè macchiato, per favore

vo-RAY oon kaf-AY mah-KEE-ah-toh, pair fah-VO-ray

Order a decaffeinated coffee.

You can order any of the above espresso drinks decaffeinated in Italy, though many places may not have decaf beans.  Just add the Italian word decaffeinato to the end of your coffee request.

For example, to order a decaffeinated espresso in Italy, just say:

"I would like a decaf espresso, please"

Vorrei un caffè decaffeinato, per favore

vo-RAY oon kaf-AY day-caff-FAYN-ah-toh, pair fah-VO-ray

Order coffee to go.

Italians rarely take their coffee to go (or "take away").

It's no surprise, in Italy coffee is what you have when you're visiting friends. Imagine taking a one-ounce espresso to-go; it's just not done.

That said, travelers and students can ask for coffee to-go in Italy. Most coffee taken to-go or take-away is either a caffè latte, a cappuccino, or a caffè Americano. Keep in mind that not all coffee bars have to-go cups.

To ask for your coffee to-go, just add the words da portar via ("for take away") to your order:

"I would like an American-style coffee to-go, please"

Vorrei un caffè Americano da portar via, per favore

vo-RAY oon kaf-AY ah-mayr-EE-kah-no dah POR-tar VEE-uh, pair fah-VO-ray

Love the cups?

All of the amazing coffee cups you see here were created by the German artist based in Berlin and fellow coffee fanatic Konstantin Datz. If you'd like to order his very cool poster showing these and many other coffee preparation favorites, check out his site here or contact us for more info.

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