Caffè Bevuti in Italia - Types of Italian Coffee

Types of Italian Coffee


This is not really a recipe but rather an overview of what coffee is in Italy and how many different types are made and drank daily. Coffee in Italy is normally served in cups, small or bigger and depending on the type of coffee, or on request, in glasses.

First it is important to explain few things:

Where do you get a coffee? In a bar. Not a cafe. Not a coffee shop. In Italy we call them bars.

1. Coffee isn’t meant to be sipped slowly for hours. Italian coffee comes in tiny quantities, and it doesn’t come in to-go cups. You stop at the bar drink your coffee and you usually don’t even sit down for it.

2. Stopping for a coffee at other points in the day is normal, accepted, and usual; and because the quantity is still small, you are not really at risk of being up all night from a 2pm shot. And every meal ends with a coffee.

3. Cappuccino in Italy is a breakfast thing. This comes from the Italian belief that drinking milk after a meal screws up digestion. So, we Italians just won’t order a cappuccino after a meal, no matter if lunch or dinner. In Italy, a cappuccino is the meal.

4. In Italy you do not order an espresso, you order “un caffè” (a coffee). It can be made with an espresso machine or at home with a moka machine, the name is still the same: caffè. I will use the names espresso or coffee interchangeable.

Different types of coffees

1. Caffè. This is the general term used in Italy. This is a single shot of espresso.

2. Caffè affogato (drowned). This is served in a large glass with two scoops of vanilla ice cream and one or two shots of espresso.

3. Cappuccino. Probably Italy’s most famous coffee export, the cappuccino is supposed to be roughly 1/3 espresso, 1/3 steamed milk, and 1/3 foam. If you want to have a cappuccino after lunch, or after dinner, go ahead. The waiter will not freak out if you order one because he/she will understand that you are not Italian; but if you really want to get into the local swing of things, stick with a straight caffè after a meal.

4. Caffè corretto (correct). This coffee drink is not for the morning, but it is a great after-dinner treat. It is a shot of espresso with a shot of liquor. The most common alcoholic additions are grappa, Baileys, Brandy, or Sambuca; but if the restaurant you are in has a full bar, you can probably have just about anything that you would like to add.

5. Caffè doppio (double). This is a double espresso in a larger cup.

6. Caffè freddo (cold). The word “freddo” means cold, and this is usually an espresso that’s been put in the refrigerator to speed the process and served cold.

7. Granita di Caffè. When the summer heat makes drinking a hot cup of caffè unbearable or just want some more refreshing things, you can substitute caffè with a granita di caffè. Think of it as a coffee slushy. Only better.

8. Caffè e latte (and milk). This is what in the US is called latte. If you order a latte in Italy you will get a glass of milk only. Caffè e latte is usually drank instead of cappuccino. It is served in a toll glass of warmed milk with a shot of espresso in it.

9. Caffè lungo (long). This is served in a bigger cup because more water will pass through the same coffee so that the coffee will have a slightly weaker taste. This can be considered American coffee in Italy.

10. Caffè macchiato. The word “macchiato” can be translated in “stained,” so this drink is essentially meant to be a shot of espresso “stained” with few drops of hot milk. If the amount of milk in a cappuccino is too much, but a straight caffè is too strong this can be the drink of choice.

11. Caffè marocchino. Or just marocchino (espressino in some parts of Italy). It is prepared with a shot of espresso and then adding frothed milk and cocoa powder. It is served in a small glass cup. The name Marocchino, which is Italian for Moroccan, is derived from its color as Marocchino was a type of light brown Moroccan leather used in the 1930s.

12. Caffè con panna (cream). This is a coffee with the addition of panna (whipping cream) on top of it.

13. Caffè ristretto (short). This is a shot of espresso with less water passing through it, making the flavor more concentrated or strong.

14. Caffè shakerato. This is a shot of espresso  with ice and sugar in a shaker. Then shake it well and serve in a tall glass. A variation is to add Baileys instead of sugar.


These are just the more popular and known ways to drink coffee in Italy. There are some other types that are specific to some cities or regions of Italy. I will let you discover them yourselves.

Enjoy your coffee.

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11 Jan 2020

By Vito Russo