If you’ve ever wondered how to order a coffee in Italy, first you need to know how you like your coffee. And with so many options to choose from, that’s easier said than done.

In Italy there’s a lot more to coffee than just cappuccino.  In fact there are enough options and names and varieties to make your head spin. Try one of the below for an authentic taste of Tuscany.

How to order a Coffee in Italy – Espresso or Macchiato?

Espresso – ok, this is an easy one. Espresso is basically pure coffee. Intense, strong and thick (much stronger than filter coffee) and quite bitter in taste. It’s served in a small cup. How to order a coffee like this: Ask for un caffé (one coffee), and that’s what you’ll be served. When? Any time of day, and often after a meal.

Ristretto – traditionally a short shot of espresso coffee made with the normal amount of ground coffee but extracted with about half the amount of water, so it’s even stronger than the espresso. This is a serious shot of caffeine.

Macchiatoespresso plus a tiny amount of hot milk, usually foamed. (The literal translation of macchiato is “stained coffee”) It’s served in a small cup, but to make things even more complicated you can also ask for it to be presented in a ‘tazza grande‘ (bigger cup – the ‘macchiatone’ is a new version, more generous with the milk). Deliciously strong.

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Caffellatte – coffee and hot milk, usually served in a glass. 1/3 espresso, 2/3 hot milk with a layer of foamed milk on top. It is usually drunk in the morning. Perfect with a sweet pastry or biscuits.

Cappuccino – usually smaller in volume than a caffellatte, this is a drink with equal amounts of coffee, steamed milk and foam (1/3 coffee, 1/3 foam, 1/3 hot milk). Drink in the morning or as an afternoon treat. A recent trend among bartenders is to make elaborate designs on the foam, sometimes using cocoa.

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how to order a coffee in italy
Cappuccino – photo credit @gadost0 on pixabay

Latte Macchiato – similar to caffellatte but with extra milk.

Caffé Corretto – espresso with a shot of liquor, usually grappa. And there’s a perfectly good reason to order it after a meal,  it helps the digestion.

Decaffeinato – if you want the coffee without the caffeine, ask for an espresso decaf.

Doppio – two shots of espresso coffee. How to order a coffee with a double shot? If you want a cappuccino for example, ask for a ‘cappuccino con doppio caffé‘.

Caffe Americano1/3 espresso, 2/3 hot water. If you only drink filter coffee this is the most similar thing you’ll find. Hot, strong and delicious.

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how to order a coffee in italy
photo credit

Caffé Shakerato – perfect for a hot summer’s day, this is coffee, sugar and ice cubes shaken to create a nice cold frothy drink. If the bartender knows what he’s doing, it’s a refreshing and delicious drink and a great way to enjoy coffee on a summer afternoon. Usually served in a Martini glass or a flute.

Caffé freddoiced coffee. If the shekerato is too fancy for you, just order a simple iced coffee. Usually it comes already sweetened and it’s best kept in the fridge. The “on the rocks” version  is a freshly made espresso served in a glass with ice cubes.

Marocchino – a modern version. This is coffee, steamed milk and hot chocolate, with some cocoa powder on the top. Served in a glass to show off the beauty of the different layers. We do prefer traditional coffee in Tuscany but this relatively recent version with chocolate has become accepted.

Now that you’ve learnt all about Italian coffee, would you like to know where to find the best coffee in Florence?