How To Order Coffee In Italy

How To order Coffee In Italy

I thought about titling this post “the Beginner’s Guide To Coffee Culture In Italy”, because coffee is actually part of the culture in Italy. Standing at the bar in a coffee shop, knocking back an espresso (un caffe) is part of the social fabric in this very social country, and if you get the system and your order down, it adds to the magic of your experience in Italy.

The first thing to know is that coffee in Italy is nothing like Starbucks.

Drinks for the most part come in one size and are supposed to be consumed onsite. Stomping your foot and demanding a venti will get you exactly nowhere – venti means 20 in Italian. You will be served your drink in a real cup, not a paper cup. Italians don’t walk around eating and drinking in the streets like we do in the US. It’s fabulous.

The second thing to know is that there is a system that you need to follow.

When you walk into a café (coffee bar) check out the situation before walking up to the bar. I most big city places you will need to pay the cashier first. He will give you a receipt that you will take up to the bar to order with. In smaller coffee shops you can order and pay at the bar.

If you are going to eat something – a pastry, a biscotto, a sandwich for example you need to scope out whats behind the glass before you pay for your order. Have a look, decide what you want and then go tell it to the cashier. Normally everything in a given food category costs the same. Panini are equally priced, all the pastries are one price etc, but there can be variables, so it doesn’t hurt to check first.

Now with your receipt in hand, muscle up to the bar and get the barista’s attention. He or she will grab your receipt, ask you what you’re having, and then tear it so they know the order has been filled.

There are 2 prices for the coffee you are ordering. One is for having it standing at the bar and the other is for taking it to sit at a table. Italians drink their coffee standing at the bar.

It should be noted at this point that a coffee in Italy (un caffe ) is what we here in the states call a shot of espresso.

Related Post: How To Make Coffee In a Moka

What To Order

There is no equivalent in Italy to American drip coffee. You also won’t find Coffeemate or flavored coffee creamers. Italian coffee ruins you – it is so incredibly good. After a break in Italy it is near impossible to go back to drinking Starbucks.

The way to ask for your order is to say “un caffe per favore”. In a busy joint you can get away with just saying the name of the drink you want, but you probably will have to get the barista’s attention.

Un Caffe / a coffee.

coffee in Italy

A coffee is a shot of espresso. It will be served to you in a little cup on a saucer with a teaspoon for sugar. Normally they will also give you a small glass of water on the side.

coffee in Italy
Lunch in Marzamemi finishes with a coffee, or what we would call an espresso

Un Macchiato.

Macchiato
A macchiato at Tazza D’Oro in Rome

This is nothing like the huge sugary confection served stateside. It’s a shot of espresso stained (made macchiato) with a drop of milk. If you want the milk to be hot and foamed ask for Macchiato Caldo. This is still served in a little espresso cup.

Un Caffe Con Panna.

This is similar to a macchiato but is sweeter, and instead of milk is topped with a dollop of whipped cream.

Un Cappuccino (or Cappuccio).

cappuccino and panforte
Breakfast in Florence. A cappuccino and a slice of panforte

This is served in a bigger cup, but still not as large as an American tall. A cappuccino is a shot of espresso with foamed milk. Italians only drink this at breakfast time til mid morning. They cringe at the thought of milk sitting on a full stomach. Being that you probably are not his first tourist your barista will happily make you cappuccinos all day long.

Caffe Americano.

Caffe Americano
Caffe Americano at Gilli in Florence

This is the closest thing you will get to an American drip coffee. Sort of. It’s a shot of espresso with hot water added. It will still be much stronger than coffee at home.

This drink is strictly for the tourists – no Italian would be caught dead drinking it.

Un Lungo/Caffe Lungo.

You can ask for a caffe lungo (long) for a slightly weaker version.

Un Corretto or Caffe Corretto.

This is “corrected” coffee, said coffee being corrected with a shot of liquor. This could be grappa, brandy, Sambuca, Cognac or I’m sure anything that you would prefer.

Granita Al Caffe

Caffe Granita

Granita is a cold coffee that comes out of a slushy style machine. Its very creamy and smooth and delicious.

Coffee In Naples

I personally think Italian coffee is the best coffee in the world. In all my travels around the globe I have never had better coffee, or coffee that I have loved better, anywhere.

Kimbo Coffee In Naples
Kimbo is a brand of coffee I see more in Naples than anywhere else.

Within Italy the best coffee I have ever had has been in Naples. I make sure to allow coffee time every time I pass through, even if its just a quick espresso at the train station. But beware – coffee in Naples is strong!

Italians pop into a bar (café/coffee shop) multiple times per day. It’s a fun habit to take part in! If espresso seems too strong to start with just load it up with sugar. You will get the swing of it and develop a taste for it in no time, and before you know it you’ll either be drinking it straight or with just a little sugar before you know it.

I bring home between 5 and 10 pounds of Italian coffee every time I go to Italy. I buy Lavazza Crema E Gusto or Illy You can order both here on Amazon, but they cost a bit more, although they’re still not expensive.

Related Posts:

10 Things You Absolutely MUST Do In Florence

10 Things You Absolutely MUST Do In Rome

16 Luscious Italian Words And Phrases You need In Your Life



How To Order Coffee In Italy
How To Order Coffee in Italy

How To Travel Italy On A Super Tight Budget

AZ Midday

I was just on NBC talking about travel in Italy. One of the points I mentioned but didn’t have time to get into depth on is how to travel Italy on a really tight budget.

I was a single mom and we never had money to spare, yet not only were we able able to go to Italy each year, we were able to have amazing vacations on a budget so tight it squeaked when we walked. (I also did trips on my own, kiddo free.) All it took was some planning and some strategy, both of which I am going to share with you.

Planning

1. Know When To Go

The first plan was not to travel during high season. My normal time frame to travel was late May/early June, when school had let out but the season wasn’t yet in full swing. Over the years I also traveled in December, February, March and October, depending on when I had time to go.

Mid June to mid September are high season and are a more expensive time to travel.

2. Plan Well Ahead

I always start planning my next trip to Italy on the way to the airport coming home! Long range plans give you something to look forward to but also give you more opportunity to be ready for killer deals on everything from flights to accommodation to train tickets.

Related Post: 7 Great Tips For Traveling On A Budget

3. Spend More Time In Fewer Places

Rather than planning a trip that takes you from one end of the country to the other, focus on spending more time in fewer places. Each time you move to another town or city you lose vacation time checking out, traveling and then checking in to your new accommodation. If you do vacation rentals (I do) you pay a cleaning fee each time you leave. If you think of this as €50 per move it can really add up quickly.

We would base in one place – for example San Gimignano, and spend a week or so driving all over Tuscany exploring new towns and villages. Then we would move to Rome for 4 days. One time we stayed in Sicily for 10 days and then Rome for 3. We always had an amazing time, got a feel for the town we were staying in, made friends there, and were able to explore at leisure.

Hanging out in Florence, 2021

Strategy

When you apply a little strategy you can save enormous amounts of money and even travel for free.

1. Stay Outside The Hot Zones

The more touristed cities are obviously more expensive to stay in. The closer you are to the big tourist attractions, like the Colosseum, the more expensive everything is. Not only accommodation, but coffee, a glass of wine, lunch etc.

Go a neighborhood back from there and the prices go down significantly.

Piazza Grande in Arezzo

You can also save loads of money by staying in a town close by. You’ll never tear me away from Rome, but instead of staying in Florence you can cut the cost in half by staying in another Tuscan town a brief train ride away. My giant fresco apartment in Arezzo costs half the price of a shoebox in Florence. A Cappuccino and a croissant in Arezzo costs €3, which is around half the cost of central Florence. I adore Arezzo but can also whip into Florence on the train for about €5, and spend as much time as I want there strolling the museums and soaking up the magic.

Related Post: 21 Travel Books To Inspire Your Wanderlust

2. Play The Mileage Game

This is the most important trick of them all. It’s how I have gamed a free flight to Italy every year, and now it has become even easier to earn extra miles super quickly. There are two parts to the mileage game:

Part One: Earn Credit Card Miles

This is the fastest way to earn free flights and/or cancel out other travel expenses such as hotels/airbnbs, train tickets, rental car costs and much more.

The first thing to do is get a non-airline travel credit card. There are plenty out there but in the U.S the two best ones are the Chase Sapphire card and my favorite, the Capital One Venture card. Both these cards offer no international fees when you travel, and both let you earn 2 miles for every dollar spent.

The Chase points need to be used on Chase linked airlines but still is a great program.

The Capital One Venture card lets you use miles to buy flights on any airline, any flight you choose. For several years I used American Express miles to get free flights – they also have an excellent mileage program.

A regular airline credit card only lets you use miles on that airline, and has endless blackout dates. They also don’t let you use miles to buy your ideal flight plan, so you can find yourself stuck with awful flight plans and crazy layovers. When you use an airline credit card the airline has all the power in the relationship. When you build up miles on a non-airline travel credit card you choose the flights you want – you’re not sitting in the back row on some janky plane, instead you fly the airline of your choice (and build up more miles with them while you’re at it!)

Whichever travel credit card you get, you now want to run your entire life through that card. Other than mortgage/rent and car payments you can run almost all of your life expenses through your card. From groceries to gas in your car to insurance payments, paying utilities, cell phone bills – everything! Even buying a coffee or paying for parking. You’re not buying anything extra, just turning your cost of living into frequent flier miles. You will be amazed at how quickly the miles add up. You just need to be disciplined and pay the card each day/week so you don’t run up a balance.

When you purchase airline tickets or any travel related expenses your Capital One Venture card tracks them. When you want to pay the bill you hit Redeem Miles and all your travel expenses will populate, with the number of miles you need to use to cancel out each one. You can now zero out the cost of your flight, or maybe the cost of your airbnb, your train tickets – whichever travel expenses you want to cancel out. It’s brilliant! And even better, you didn’t spend extra money to get these miles, this is just rerouting your cost of living.

Related Post: How To Plan An Amazing Trip To Italy

Part Two: Get More Miles Using Shopping Portals

This is a newer way to add even more miles for doing what you were already doing anyway. The main U.S based airlines now have their own online shopping portals. (Capital One has their own portal too.)

I mostly fly with American Airlines, so use their portal the most. All you do is sign in and create an account using your airline frequent flier account number. Then every time you want to buy something online you go into the portal and type that business into the search bar. You can see the American Airlines portal here. It’s just one extra step to take you to where you were shopping anyway, but you get extra frequent flier miles in the process. It takes a while for these miles to add up, but it’s worth it when you get a free flight!

I talked about this on the Untold Italy podcast. I explained how I wanted to buy two J Crew white t-shirts. I went into the American Airlines shopping portal, typed in J Crew and it took me to the J Crew website. From there anything I bought earned me twice the dollar value in American Airlines miles. Often there are bonus days where you earn more than 2 miles per dollar. Recently I bought products from Sephora online and earned 5x miles per dollar spent. Again all you are doing is adding one more step to your online shopping process, but you are earning frequent flier miles in the process!

Double Dip For Miles

The last thing I want to tell you is to double dip for miles. In the last example where we talked about using airline shopping portals to earn airline frequent flier miles, we are now going to double our miles by using our non-airline travel credit card to make the purchase. When I bought those J Crew t-shirts I earned 2x miles with the American Airlines by using their portal, but I also earned another 2x miles with capital One by using my travel credit card. I do this for every online purchase. It doesn’t seem like much but the miles add up like crazy and before you know it you are taking yourself on free trips or trips that cost you next to nothing. You can hear more about it in the untold Italy podcast #116 (linked below). I go into depth with lots of examples and explain more about how to travel to Italy (or anywhere else you want to go) on a shoestring budget, and have an absolutely amazing trip!

Check out the Untold Italy Podcast episode where I explain more about traveling on a budget here

Want more Italy travel tips? Join the thousands of members of my monthly newsletter for updates and information on all things travel and Italy travel. Join here.

For more tips on how to plan a trip to Italy, plus information on everything from how to use the trains to which foods and wines to order where, check out my best selling book Glam Italia! How To Travel Italy: Secrets To Glamorous Travel (On A Not So Glamorous Budget). Available worldwide in paperback and eBook versions, on Amazon.

Best Italy travel guide
Order your copy here

How To Make Fantastic Coffee, Italian Style

Italy is known for making the best coffee on earth. Once you’ve enjoyed daily coffee in Italy you find nothing can compare to it when you get back home.

Morning coffee in Puglia

Whether you have an Italian coffee lover to buy a gift for or whether you just want to up your own home made coffee game, these options will help you to make fantastic coffee, Italian style.

This post contains Amazon affiliate links. All products are available on Amazon.com or on my personal Amazon storefront, Amazon.com/shop/CorinnaTravels, linked here.

Coffee Machines

Let’s look at three types of Italian coffee makers. They run the gamut price wise from the $20 mark to upward of $500.

The Moka

Every Italian home and every vacation rental in Italy has a moka. They make caffe, also known as stovetop espresso.

Most will have several in different sizes from the teeny tiny one cup model to the larger 9 cup plus models. Just remember a cup is about 1.5 ounces. I normally use a 3 cup moka for myself plus 1 person, or a 9 cup model if there are more of us. Typically here in America we drink a slightly longer espresso, around 3 or 4 ounces.

The Bialetti Moka

The traditional moka is the easily recognizable Bialetti model. The Bialetti moka comes in many sizes. I have linked the large 9 cup model, but click around and see them all. In general the 3 cup or the 6 cup will be ideal for most people.

RELATED POST: HOW TO MAKE COFFEE IN A MOKA

I normally use Lavazza Crema e Gusto or Illy coffee when I make coffee in a moka.

The Alessi Pulcina Moka

I’m fascinated with the design of the Alessi Pulcina moka. Not only is is chic and modern, it was designed by Michele de Lucchi in conjunction with Illy Coffee to improve the design and function of the coffee maker. It has multiple cool functions but one of them is a boiler that stops dispensing coffee at just the right time so that it doesn’t get a bitter aftertaste. The shape also enhances the rich aroma of the coffee, and the spout which was modeled on a chicken’s beak lets it pour without spilling a drop.

Alessi make multiple different modern looking mokas but this one is my favorite.

There are two types of Italian coffee that I like to use in my moka (I also use them in French Press coffee.)

Illy Moka coffee

I love Illy’s Moka coffee. They also have fabulous coffee for espresso machines, French Press and for American drip coffee.

I particularly love Lavazza Crema e Gusto. I drink it everyday in Italy and for the last several years have been drinking it every day at home too. You can buy individual bricks of it for around $8 but once you fall in love with it, and you will, you can buy multi brick packs for arund $3 per brick.

RELATED POST: HOW TO ORDER COFFEE IN ITALY

The Nespresso

There are several different options with Nespresso machines. The main thing to consider is whether you want the original line, which makes espresso and lungo coffee ot the vertuoline which also makes more of a traditional American size cup. The original can only use original size pods and the vertuoline can only use the larger, dome shaped vertuoline pods.

The original line uses a 19 bar pressure method to make espresso and the vertuloine uses a centrifugal system. The vertuoline capusles are barcoded and tell the machine what temperature and water volume is best for that specific coffee.

Vertuoline pods are more expensive than the original line pods, which should be factored in if this will be your primary coffee maker. Nespresso brand pods are 70 cents each for original line and $1.29 each for vertuoline. There are plenty of excllent off brand pod options for the original line that run around 39 cents each, but the vertuoline only has the Nespresso option.

The Inissia and Essenza

The Inissia (now being replaced with the Essenza) is the entry level model. I have had this machine for years. Both the Inissia and the Essenza run on the same principal, the two main differences being the Essenza’s more modern, sleek look and the new design is quieter than the Inissia. While they are phasing out the Inissia you can find some good discounts.

Both machines use the original size pods and make espresso in 1.5 ounce and 5 ounce serving sizes. Both machines are lightweight and take up very little counter space. Each has a 24 ounce water resevoir. Both machines have the option of coming with a milk frother or without. If you are on a budget you can get the same style milk frother at Target for under $30.

There are multiple models and multiple size options available in the original line.

The Vertuoline

The best seller in the Vertuoline range is the Vertuo Plus Espresso and Coffee Machine. Vertuoline machines don’t come with built in frothers, but the Nespresso brand Aeroccino milk frother can be bought with it separately. All Vertuoline models make 5 different sizes of coffee vs the 2 sizes you can make with the Original line models.

The Vertuo

The Vertuo machine is larger than the VertuoPlus. With a 40 ounce water holder and a larger used pod reservoir it makes a good choice for someone who either drinks more coffee or who has more coffee drinkers in the home or workplace.

Crema

There is some debate about the quality of the crema between the Original line and the Vertuoline machines with the latter promoted as having a thicker layer on the surface. This may well be a marketing ploy to attract new buyers.

To understand the crema equation you first need to understand the differnce between the two lines. The Original line uses the traditional pressure method to make coffee. This involves using higher temperature water which extracts more oils from the grounds making a richer, stronger, more flavorful coffee.

The Vertuoline uses a centrifugal force to whip up extra crema. The coffee doesn’t come out as hot and the brew method makes a milder cup of coffee.

What Is Crema?

Crema is the tan foam like substance that forms on an espresso. It is caused by a chemical reaction during the brewing process involving pH and coffee oils. It tends to be a little acidic due to the increased pH and the CO2.

Some people think crema is an indication the barista used fresher beans to make your espresso, but its normally an indicator that inferior Robusta beans were used. With Nespresso machines the Original line’s thinner crema is closer to the real crema you get when frsh Arabica beans are used. Vertuoline’s thicker crema could be from higher percentages of Robusta beans or it could be because of the high speed spinning used in the extraction process.

Which Machine Should You Choose?

My best advice when choosing a Nespresso machine is if you enjoy real espresso and espresso drinks (like cappuccino) and don’t want to buy a big espresso machine, then the Original line is the one for you.
If you prefer longer coffee drinks or coffee machines that make a full cup like American style coffee, then the Vertuoline maybe the one for you.

While You’re On Amazon Check Out My Glam Italia! Travel Book Series

Espresso Machines

The De Longhi La Specialista Espresso Machine

There are loads of options for anyone wanting the full espresso bar experience, from relatively cheap machines to very expensive ones. I’m showing two mid range options.

The De Longhi La Specialista has dual heating systems so you can be frothing milk while making espresso. It also has an integrated grinder, a handcrafted stamping station and a knock box. The Specialista is easy to clean and has an award winning design. This machine costs around $750. You can read all the features it offeres here.

The Breville Barista Express Espresso machine also offers on demand grinding, precise temperature control and milk foam texturing. It has a few less feature than the De Longhi but it did make the list of Oprah’s Favorite Things, so there’s that.

Again, there are plenty more options for espresso machines, so you should click around and do more comparisons before buying.

You can see more Italian Coffee making options including refillable nespresso pods and gorgeous espresso cups on my Amazon storefront in the Italian Coffee Style section. My storefront is Amazon.com/Shop/CorinnaTravels. I have lots of interesting things for travel enthusiasts, from books to clothing to gadgets to coffee!

Amazon Influencer Store Corinna Travels