Ordering Coffee in Italy: the #1 Rule to Order it Like a True Italian!

Italian coffee culture prioritizes quality and tradition, favoring espresso 'al banco' for its simplicity and intensity. The espresso reigns supreme as the most popular order, reflecting a ritual of savoring life's moments. Italian coffee etiquette values enjoying coffee in ceramic cups at the counter, embodying a philosophy of appreciating the present.

By Cookist

Italy's coffee culture is a celebrated aspect of its rich culinary heritage, known for its rituals, specific terminologies, and the social ambiance of its cafés. Unlike many places around the world, Italian coffee culture embodies a tradition that prioritizes quality, simplicity, and the pleasure of enjoying coffee in the moment. But how does one navigate this esteemed tradition when visiting Italy, and what insights can we gain into the most cherished coffee practices?

How to Order Coffee in Italian

Ordering coffee in Italy is an art in itself, steeped in tradition and local customs. When you approach the counter, or ‘al banco,' as is customary, you'll want to greet the barista with a friendly "Buongiorno" (good morning) or "Buonasera" (good evening), depending on the time of day. To order a coffee, simply ask for "Un caffè, per favore," which refers to a shot of espresso, the cornerstone of Italian coffee. If you prefer your espresso with a touch of milk in the morning, you might opt for a "Caffè macchiato" (espresso with a spot of milk) or a "Cappuccino." Remember, it's customary to pay for your coffee first at the cashier before presenting your receipt to the barista.

The Most Popular Coffee Order in Italy

In Italy, the undisputed king of coffees is the simple "caffè" – a single shot of espresso served in a small, warm ceramic cup. This potent and aromatic concoction is the heart of Italian coffee culture, enjoyed throughout the day by millions. While cappuccinos and lattes have their place, particularly in the morning, the espresso reigns supreme, reflecting Italians' preference for purity and intensity in their coffee. It's a quick, energizing ritual that fits seamlessly into the rhythm of daily life.


Coffee Etiquette in Italy

Did you know Italians don’t order coffee to go but drink it ‘al banco,’ meaning at the counter? And why is that? Because Italians take the moment for coffee seriously, so even when in a hurry, they make time to drink it in a ceramic cup at the counter and enjoy the relaxing sounds of a busy café. This ritual underscores the Italian philosophy of savoring each moment, reflecting a broader cultural emphasis on enjoying life's pleasures. Drinking coffee ‘al banco' also offers a moment of respite and connection, allowing patrons to exchange greetings or engage in brief conversations amidst their daily routines. Additionally, ordering milk-based coffees like cappuccinos is typically reserved for the morning hours, as consuming milk after meals is often considered heavy on the stomach.

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