What You Need to Know about the Italian Coffee Culture

It’s incredibly easy to find a coffee shop or bar with a good barista in Italy. Like Americans, the Italians appreciate a good espresso throughout the day. A cappuccino at breakfast, a caffe macchiato as a pick-me-up, or an espresso after dinner. But there are a few differences in the way an Italian takes his coffee. Here’s what you need to know.

  1. Coffee with milk, such as a cappuccino or caffe latte, is only consumed in the morning hours of Italy and never after a meal.
  2. A caffe, or simply an espresso, is sipped in the afternoon as a pick-me-up or after a meal.
  3. There are no size differentials in an Italian coffee shop. No tall, no grande, and definitely no venti.
  4. Bummed that you can’t get a venti? Don’t worry. Though coffee may come in smaller portions than you’re used to, it’s pretty typical to enjoy several throughout the day. Rather than order a doppio, coffee is best consumed in small, steady doses. Seven or eight espressos a day isn’t unheard of.
  5. But it won’t break your bank to do so. Coffee in Italy is refreshingly cheap. Anything over 2 Euros is a ripoff.
  6. Taking it to go? Don’t think so. Takeaway coffee isn’t a thing in Italy. Whether you’re in a hurry or not, your drink is coming to you in a porcelain cup. Either plan to stay for a moment or sip your coffee quick.
  7. Coffee is typically enjoyed al banco, or, at the bar. When you visit a cafe in Italy, you’ll see friends lined up al banco, chatting with a coffee in hand.
  8. When it’s time to order, simply ask for un caffe, rather than an espresso. And definitely don’t say “expresso” either.
  9. Coffee is often consumed on the go, and the absence of paper cups ensures that it is served at the perfect, ready-to-consume temperate.
  10. If you’re ordering from a bar (rather than a coffee shop), your coffee may be served with a glass of water. Drink this first, to cleanse the palate, then enjoy your coffee.

Not sure what to get? Stay tuned for our next blog post detailing a variety of popular coffee orders.