It’s not exactly news that Italy is arguably the coffee drinking capital of the world, but when tourists saunter in saying oh sure I’ll try the Italian coffee please, they leave bar workers with very little to go on. There’s almost endless possibilities of how to order a coffee in Italy, but here’s a list of just 10 that you definitely should be aware of when you travel. I can tell you first hand… these coffees currently rule my life.

1. Caffè

What it is: Essentially a shot of espresso, but that’s the normal coffee here in Italy so you won’t hear the locals specifying for it, they just ask for un caffè.

How it rules my life: Every time I call it a baby coffee or a coffee nugget, no one laughs and I’m reminded to get back in the internet where I belong.

italian coffee

Photo via Flickr/Karol Franks

2. Cappuccino

What it is: 1/3 espresso, 1/3 steamed milk, 1/3 foam.

How it rules my life: Since I drink it all day every day it pretty quickly identifies me as a foreigner. Italians only drink it in the morning and certainly never after a meal. It also takes up about 1/3 of my Instagram posts.

italian coffee

Photo via Flickr/Brandon Shea

3. Macchiato

What it is: Coffee with a bit of hot milk… the middle sibling of a straight espresso shot and a cappuccino.

How it rules my life: When I’m frolicking in sleuth mode but still want milk in my coffee at any time of day, the macchiato won’t immediately identify me as a tourist like the cappuccino will.

italian coffee

Photo via Flickr/Joshua Rappeneker

4. Americano

What it is: A big old watered down cup of espresso.

How it rules my life: When the American in me inevitably once again longs for a coffee bigger than my head, Americano is pretty much the closest I can find.

italian coffee

Photo via Flickr/Simon Clayson

5. Shakerato

What it is: Shake up a shot of espresso, milk, sugar and ice in a cocktail shaker and then pour it all into a tall glass, foam included.

How it rules my life: Shakerato is fun to say and sometimes if I dance when I say, it bar workers think I’m funny and want to make friends.

italian coffee

Photo via Flickr/Laissez Fare

6. Granita di caffè

What it is: Granita comes in many flavors, it’s basically a slushie. Granita di caffè is the coffee coolata of Italy but better in all the ways things can be better.

How it rules my life: My New England born bones tend to melt in the Mediterranean summer sun, until granita di caffè comes along and restores my body temperature to a semi human level and I can continue with my day.


Photo via Flickr/kochtopf

7. Marocchino

What it is: A shot of espresso topped with cacao powder and a nice layer of foamed milk.

How it rules my life: When I’m torn between chocolatey goodness and coffee goodness, marochhino eliminates one of the more stressful choices of my life.


Photo via Flickr/Ignacio Palomo Duarte

8. Ristretto

What it is: A single shot of espresso but made with less water running through the coffee for a stronger taste.

How it rules my life: When I stay out too late and have to get my bum to work in the morning, ristretto is like a swift coffee flavored smack across the face saying move it girlfrand, you about to be late.


Photo via Flickr/Richard

9. Corretto

What it is: One shot of espresso + one shot of liquor = gewd laaawd this day is finally done!

How it rules my life: The coffee of the night, corretto helps me switch from Professional Sarah to Socially Pleasant Sarah. Very useful after dinner coffee.


Photo via Flickr/pintxomoruno

10. Latte

What it is: Plot twist — it is milk. It is only milk, milk by itself, milk without any coffee at all. That’s right. Starbucks has had us all fooled for many a seasonal flavor and classic alike. They’ve lied to you during your morning commute, they were lying while you met that guy from Tinder to make sure he wasn’t weird before you hooked up, and they were lying while you didn’t really get that much of your screenplay written. They were always lying, it was a slow and patient trick, because now, many an enormous coffee drink-to-go later, you are at last visiting Italy, and have ordered yourself a tall cold glass of milk like the silly bambino you’ve proven yourself to be.

How it rules my life: It does not rule my life because I’m Italian now and I know I’ve been lied to. #BreakFree


Photo via Flickr/scribbletaylor

What kind of Italian coffee rules your life?

American by chance, but Roman by choice, Sarah is currently feeding her adventurous soul with expatriatism and pizza. Her finest moments are always on the wrong bus with a backpack and an upside down map, waiting to see what the world’s got for her next, so long as she can blog about it. She likes writing more than talking, dolphins more than humans, old movies more than new, and Rome more than anything else.


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