When in Italy, do as the Italians do: stop by the local bar (coffee shop) first thing in the morning (then again mid-morning, then again after lunch…) and have an espresso.
Ordering an espresso is pretty easy and a great way to begin practicing your Italian with some simple phrases.
Here’s what you’d say when ordering coffee in an Italian bar:
Buongiorno, un caffè per favore (if you say un caffé, it is implied that it is an espresso).
The barista may ask you, lo vuole macchiato? Do you want it macchiato, which means “stained” with a drop of milk.
Now, that could be just macchiato, or macchiato caldo, if you want the milk to be hot (and foamed).
You could also ask for a caffè lungo (long), for a weaker version (it is “longer”, meaning it is brewed with more water).
Another big favorite is cappuccino, a shot of expresso with foamed milk – you may also hear it called “cappuccio”.
But wait, there are more coffee drinks to choose from! Here are some of the most common:
Latte macchiato – this is a glass of steamed milk “stained” with espresso – it’s more milk than coffee.
Caffè latte – espresso with hot milk, usually served in a glass, no foam. *Note: don’t ask for “latte” unless all you want is a glass of -cold- milk!
Sometimes, you’ll hear people order un caffè hag or un decaffeinato, that’s decaf espresso.
Caffè corretto (“corrected”) – espresso with a drop of liquor
Caffè freddo (cold) – it’s espresso shaken with ice and sugar and served in a glass, popular in the summer season.
And don’t you want some food to go with your morning coffee?
Vuole qualcosa da mangiare?
The most popular thing to order is a croissant, which in Italy we call brioche or cornetto, and that could be plain, vuota/vuoto, or filled with crema (custard), or marmellata (jam), or miele (honey), or Nutella (no need for translation here).
When you go to the register to pay, you simply say what you ordered: un caffè e una brioche.
Then you pay and say goodbye: Grazie. Buona giornata, arrivederci! (Thank you. Have a nice day. Bye!)
Now, test your knowledge of the different kinds of Italian coffee with the ITALY Coffee Quiz!