How to order a coffee in Italy (Italian coffee cultures, six drinks you can order in Italy)

It is always amazing when coffee lovers travel to Italy and enjoy Italy’s coffee varieties. The biggest challenge, however, is the language barrier. If you want a seamless ordering process and feel like a local, here is how to order coffee in Italy.

To order coffee in Italy, you need to order it in Italian. Therefore, learning some common phrases when ordering coffee is essential. The introductory word to use is “un caffè per favore .”You can also not order a to-go. The essence of the coffee is for you to sit, take a break, relax, and enjoy your coffee.

I thought ordering coffee was easy, like in New York, until I visited Italy. I made a complete fool of myself when I wanted a to-go cappuccino in the evening. I could never forget “the look” I was given by the barista that day.

six drinks you can order in Italy

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I got my coffee eventually, but everyone in the bar knew I was a tourist. After learning the culture for a few more days in Italy, I wrote this article to help clueless people like me navigate their way when ordering coffee in Italy and fit in like a local.

What is the Italian coffee culture?

The coffee culture is solid and sacred in Italy. So, it is essential when visiting the country to understand their coffee culture, fit in like a local, and not just be labeled as a tourist. Here are a few common Italian coffee cultures to know.

  • If you want to order a coffee in Italy, you must go to the bar. The bars in Italy are not your typical liquor bars like the ones in the US. They are simply coffee bars. However, in some cases, the bars offer both coffee and alcohol. You can choose to be tipsy and caffeinated all at once.
  • You enjoy coffee inside the bar. They do not offer to-go coffee or even to-go cups. The idea is for you to relax and enjoy the goodness of your coffee, even if it is for a few minutes. Savour that taste!
  •  Always pay for the coffee you want before ordering at the counter. Cash is always preferred to credit cards. However, in some coffee bars, you can order your drink, enjoy it and pay for it before you leave, so it is essential to observe how the locals order their coffee before entering any coffee bar in Italy.
  •  Most people in Italy enjoy their coffee on the counter standing up. However, you can still sit at the table, but your price will be higher as you receive extra service. Most locals choose to stand up and enjoy their coffee while interacting with each other.
  •  Never order a latte in Italy. You will be disappointed when you get a full glass of milk. Trust me, I know; I learned that the hard way when I asked for a latte and got milk . If you want a latte, make sure to say caffè latte simultaneously. Use both words.
  •  You do not have to tip at a coffee bar. But if you feel like Mother Teresa, you could round up the bill and tell them to keep the change.
  • You do not have to specify your drink size as you would typically do in a Starbucks store. Don’t be complicated; order the coffee you want; the size depends on your order.
  • Never order a cappuccino after 11 a.m. It is highly frowned upon. Italians believe that milk is very difficult to digest. Therefore, it is not advisable to have it after lunch or dinner. It does not mean that if you order a cappuccino after 11 a.m., they will refuse to give it to you . But if you want to adopt the coffee culture, do not order a cappuccino after 11 a.m.
  • When having your coffee for breakfast, you could buy a pastry. Italian breakfast has coffee and a pastry like a cornetto, which is usually a croissant filled with cream or Nutella, which means chocolate.

How to order coffee in Italy like a local- Ordering coffee in Italian

If you want to order coffee in Italy and sound like a local, it is best to order it in Italian. These are some of the ways to order coffee using the Italian language.

  • To order coffee in Italian, you need to learn the most common phrase used in ordering coffee. To order coffee, say “un caffè per favore”. It means a coffee, please.
  • To order any coffee, say the type of coffee you want and finish with per favore. This way, you will be set the whole time you are in Italy when you want a coffee. Caffè is what we all know as an espresso.
  • An American does not exist in Italy. If you order a caffè americano, you might get a watered-down espresso shot because a lot of hot water is added.
  • There are three staple and basic drinks that you can order in Italy. The drinks are caffè, an espresso, caffè latte and a cappuccino.
  • Other phrases that can help you when ordering coffee are;
  •  Un bichiere d’acqua per favore-a glass of water please. Water comes with the coffee, but you may use this phrase if you want to ask for more. 
  • Zucchero-Sugar. Most of their coffee has sugar, but if you need more, there are sugar packets written zucchero and a communal jar with sugar.
  • Un cornetto or un brioche-Pastry. Use it if you want your coffee with a pastry. 

It is also essential to learn a few phrases when ordering to sound polite when making an order:

  • Ciao-hello
  • Grazie-thank you
  • Buona giornata-good day
  • Buonasera-good evening

Six coffee drinks you can order in Italy


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Caffè is just an Italian word for coffee. caffè is also called caffè normal. It is the espresso that we all know and love. If you like your coffee black, I recommend this to you.

You get it black with one shot, but if you want more caffeine shots, return to the barrister and request more.


six drinks you can order in Italy
Cappuccino. Image source: Pixabay

Cappuccino is a classic Italian drink. The cappuccino has equal parts of milk foam, espresso, and steamed milk. Make sure to order it during or before breakfast. Do not order a cappuccino after 11 a.m. unless you want all the eyes on you.

Caffè macchiato

six drinks you can order in Italy
Caffè macchiato. Image source: Pixabay

Caffè macchiato is a slightly milky coffee drink compared to a caffè. It has espresso and a splash of frothy milk. The good news with caffè macchiato is that you can order it anytime in the day.

Caffè latte

Italian coffee cultures
Caffè latte. Image source: Pixabay

Caffè latte compared to a cappuccino is creamier. The drink has one part espresso and two parts of steamed milk with just a touch of foam at the top.

Caffè corretto

How to order a coffee in Italy
Caffè corretto. Image source: Pixabay

Caffè corretto means a corrected espresso. The drink has espresso with a splash of grappa, brandy, or any liquor you choose. It is a boozy coffee drink and an excellent way to unwind after a long day , especially before dinner. Who said you can’t have your coffee and liquor in one cup?

Caffè freddo

How to order a coffee in Italy 
Caffè freddo. Image source: Pixabay

I would recommend having Caffè freddo on a hot day, especially if you are in the southern part of Italy. It naturally comes with sugar, so for the healthy freaks, beware! The drink is an espresso, shaken with ice and sugar.


What is the most common coffee drink you can get in Italy?

The most common drink you can order in Italy is a cappuccino. Cappuccino has milk and foam, so it is seen as a meal, and many Italians have it for breakfast.

How much is coffee in Italy?

On average, you can get a coffee for about €1. An espresso can cost €1 and a cappuccino € 1.30. The price largely depends on the location. If you are in a city or a tourist attraction area, the price will be higher than in the village. Prices in the North and South of Italy also differ.

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