If you’ve ever been to Italy, or if you love this country both for its food and its people, it’s easy to see how proud Italians are of their coffee.
Coffee in Italy It is almost a religion and over the centuries Italians have created entire rules around brewing, drinking and ordering coffee out of the shop. In different regions, these rules may vary slightly. But there are immutable rules that every Italian follows.
1. When you go to the store, don’t call “for a cup of coffee” they will understand you want a cup of espresso
In Italy, there is only one type of coffee: espresso. If you go to a bar (in Italy the bar is the coffee shop) and ask for a coffee, you are asking for an espresso. The barista will never ask you what kind of coffee you want. And cappuccino, caffè latte, macchiato… and the like are not considered coffee in Italy.
2. Should stand to drink coffee
Italians love to drink coffee while standing at the bar. The reason is very simple because the amount of coffee in an espresso is very small and can be drunk in less than 1 minute. People talk to the bartender as they drink, and the conversation itself is an Italian coffee experience. For Italians drinking coffee is considered a social activity.
If you choose to sit at the table to be served coffee, you may have to pay extra for sitting on the spot. This amount will depend on the bar where you drink. It is more expensive to live near touristy areas than in normal residential areas.
3. Don’t ask for an Americano
Italians don’t usually drink Americano, and unless you’re standing at an American bar or bakery. In Italy you can only ask for a “lungo” coffee. “Caffè lungo” is essentially a double espresso that tourists call “lungo” while Italians will tend to call it “doppio” which is double of a regular espresso.
If you ask for an Americano don’t be surprised at what you get it’s likely just a “caffè espresso doppio” or be prepared to be denied an Americano.
4. Don’t order cappuccino after 11am
Italians usually only have a cappuccino for breakfast and never drink it in the afternoon or after a meal. Before 11am you can order three different types of milk coffee including cappuccino, caffè latte, which is espresso with lots of warm milk or frothed milk. Finally a latte macchiato, which is basically a lot of warm milk and a bit of espresso. None of these are acceptable to drink in the afternoon, especially after a meal.
5. Pay before you tell the barista what coffee you want
One of the most important rules at a coffee shop is to pay at the counter before telling the barista what you want. The common practice is to order and pay at the cashier, keep your receipt and hand it over to the bartender. When you have a specific request, for example many Italians often ask for espresso by the cup instead of the cup, tell the barista when you hand over the receipt.