Allow Rossano Ferretti Parma to whisk you away, just for a moment, to indulge you in Italian coffee culture…
Like we love beautiful, healthy hair – we love coffee. Let us re-phrase. We love Italian coffee. Enveloped in tradition and recipes that date back centuries, our coffee, and the “coffee experience,” has proven impossible to recreate. Coffee chains around the globe continuously try to replicate the flavours, scents, and ambience that our bars evoke, but with fail.
Yes, we call our coffee stores “bars,” not caffès or coffee shops. Oftentimes they have no name other than bar at the threshold; this is because they are well-known family-run establishments.
Italian coffee has thus proven to be an art form unique to our culture, encouraging tourists to seek this pleasure when they land on our soil. But for the raw and true coffee experience to be delighted on, it’s important that our guests realise the tradition and terms behind the art.
Allow us to elaborate on which coffee drinks to order, when to drink them, and how to ask for them so you can immerse yourself nella cultura italiana.
Rules to Follow When You Visit a Traditional Italian Coffee Bar –
Follow this coffee culture etiquette for an authentic orientation to Italy.
Let’s start with tips on how to order:
- Traditional bars will request that you pay before placing an order at the counter. So, always hold on to your receipt.
- Note that the bar offers two pricing formats, one for al tavolo, to drink coffee at the table, and one for al banco, to drink coffee at the counter/bar.
- Most local folks spend no more than five minutes at a bar; they drink their coffee standing at the counter, catching up on local news or enjoying a moment of quietude.
- There are no specific sizes for coffee cups; you get what you get.
- Coffee is typically served with a complimentary glass of water. It won’t be a strange request if you ask “Posso avere un bicchere d’aqua, per favore?” (Can I have a glass of water, please?)
The Different Types of Italian Coffee
Caffè (Espresso, Caffè Normale)
The most common of all Italian coffees, caffè (pronounced kahf-FEH) is an espresso that we Italians like to join throughout the day or when we need an energy boost.
When to drink it: anytime.
How to order it: ask for un caffè at the counter.
Caffè ree-STREHT-to is a concentrated single shot of espresso. It’s served as a “sip” of coffee, perfect for those who need a boost between work or touring.
When to drink it: during the day, especially if you’re in a rush or on the go.
How to order it: Un caffè ristretto, per favore?
This chilled coffee (pronounced shay-keh-RAH-toh) is made using espresso, and is shaken with ice and served like a cocktail. If you want it sweetened, make sure to let the barista know before it’s prepared.
When to drink it: during warmer summer and spring months
How to order it: Un caffè shakerato, per favore?
Order caffè LOON-goh when you’re in the mood for the most indulgent filter coffee. Add sugar to sweeten the recipe.
When to drink it: when you’re in the mood to sit and slowly enjoy a cup of smooth, sweet coffee.
How to order it: Un caffè lungo, per favore?
Kahp-poo-CHEE-noh is the second most iconic Italian coffee drink after the caffè. The recipe includes 1/3 espresso, 1/3 steamed milk, and 1/3 foam. But there’s a catch with this beverage; it’s only enjoyed at breakfast time. Why? Because Italian eating habits are particular, and since milk complicates digestion, it’s best kept for morning rituals.
When to drink it: before 11 am.
How to order it: un cappuccino, per favore?
This “spotted” espresso drink is the perfect blend of a caffè and a cappuccino with a dollop of hot milk. It’s pronounced mah-kee-YAH-toh.
When to drink it: best enjoyed as a beverage between meals.
How to order it: Un macchiato, per favore?
Caffè Marocchino (Espressino)
Mah-rohk-KEE-noh is a dessert coffee made from a delectable blend of espresso, cocoa powder, and a small layer of foamed milk.
When to drink it: perfect as a sweet treat after meals or to warm up on cold days.
How to order it: Un marocchino, per favore?
Pronounced JIN-sing, this festive coffee shares a sweet, nutty flavour with chai tea. Ginseng helps with digestion, making it a healthier form of coffee.
When to drink it: When you feel like a different type of coffee, something festive.
How to order it: Un ginseng, per favore?
Or-tzoh is a 100% naturally caffeine-free coffee made from barley. It’s surprisingly just as smooth and delicious as the stronger, real coffees.
When to drink it: anytime.
How to order it: Un orzo, per favore?
Kohr-REHT-toh is an after-dinner coffee made with espresso served with a few drops of either grappa, Baileys, Sambuca, or rum. The coffee helps with digestion but also sets the mood after enjoying a fine Italian meal.
When to drink it: after 5pm.
How to order it: Un caffè corretto, per favore?
Why this post?
Rossano Ferretti Parma is rooted in Italian heritage, appreciating every element that defines our culture. From beauty and fashion to food, wine, and coffee, we take pride in what we have created and cultivated. It gives us pleasure to share our roots with you.