Italian coffee explained Wikicommons

Italian coffee explained

An A-Z of Italian coffee...

Coffee etiquette in Italy has more strictures than a Catholic wedding so it’s essential to do your research pre-trip to avoid any caffeine related calamities. Italian coffees are subtly different to their overseas counterparts, and pretty much always served as a single shot, unless you ask for a double.


How to say it: /affogato/

Actually a dessert not a drink, the affogato is a scoop of vanilla gelato with a shot of espresso over the top.


How to say it: /amerikano/

This is a middle-ground between traditional espressos and the longer, American coffees. The Americano is an espresso that's been topped up with hot water and served in a larger cup. Consider this is the no-man’s-land of coffee here it was invented for the American soldiers during the war and has stayed ever since.


How to say it: /barbagliaita/

A Milanese coffee speciality, this chocolate and cream laced drink was invented by Domenico Barbaja in 1859, and drank by the city's artists and elite in the cafés around the La Scala opera house.

BarbagliataSource: Foodspotting

Caffè or espresso

How to say it: /kaffɛ/or /esprɛsso/

The quintessential Italian coffee, a small shot covers less than a third of the cup and is drunk in one without any milk added. Order a caffè and you’ll get a simple espresso; all other types of coffee need to be distinguished as such. 


How to say it: /kapputtʃino/ 

Probably Italy’s most famous and most loved coffee export. A cappuccino is 1/3 espresso, 1/3 hot milk and 1/3 foam, which never rises over the rim of the cup. The word cappuccio means ‘hood’ in Italian and the ‘-ino’ ending makes it the diminutive, or 'little hood'. It derives from a religious sartorial inspiration: With their iconic brown hooded cowls and white skin, the Franciscan monks of Capuchin’s clothes were the inspiration for the name when it was developed in Rome. According to legend, 17th century Capuchin monk, Marco d'Aviano, invented cappuccino after the Battle of Vienna, and that it was named after him.


How to say it: /korrɛtto/

An after-dinner coffee, but sometimes drunk in the mountains early morning. A corretto is an espresso with a drop of liquor, usually grappa, Sambuca or Baileys. For once though, waiters aren’t too fussy and you can have any spirit you like added. Perfect for a pre-ski perk.


How to say it: /deka/

Short for decaffinated coffee. You can also use the full term decaffeinato.


How to say it: /doppjo/

If one shot of espresso isn’t enough a caffè doppio will get the blood flowing: a double espresso served in a slightly larger cup.

F Evan-Blaser: Flickr Source: Evan-Blaser,


How to say it: /ahg/

A brand name that’s come to represent the drink itself, a Hag is decaffeinated coffee and the tag can be added to any you choose, e.g. cappuccino hag or espresso hag. 

Latte macchiato 

How to say it:  /ˈlatte makkjato/

latte, in English speaking countries, is a long drink that consists primarily of hot milk and single shot of espresso. The kind of drink that poncho-wearing celebrities and hipster students bitch over together, whilst simultaneously blogging mindlessly on the MacBooks. But know this: a latte in Italy is just milk. Ask for a latte and you’ll get a milk.  If you want a latte in the Anglo-American sense you need to ask for a latte macchiato, which is a long drink consisting of one (or two) shots of espresso and topped up with hot, un-frothed milk. Again, never order this after lunch.


How to say it: /lungo/

The word is translated literally as ‘long’ and means that after the espresso has been poured water is run through the same coffee grounds, rather than adding hot water after. The result is a slightly weaker, longer espresso.


How to say it: /makkjato/

The word macchiato comes from the Italian word for ‘stained’ so this drink is essentially a shot of espresso stained with a drop of hot milk. Served in an espresso cup, a macchiato is perfect for those who can’t handle the strength of pure black coffee.


How to say it: /marokkino/

A shot of espresso, with a sprinkle of cocoa powder, then layered with hot milk. The result is a creamy, spiced flavour, which is excellent for warmth on the cold winter mornings.

Caffe MarocchinoMarocchino, source:


How to say it: /panna/

Panna means ‘cream’ in Italian, and in the case of coffee it refers to the dollop of whipped cream that can be added to the top of any coffee. Just ask for your drink, con panna.


How to say it: /ristretto/

An even shorter version of the espresso, where less water passes through, making the coffee flavour stronger and more concentrated. Sometimes shortened to just caffè stretto.


How to say it: /ʃekerato/

A caffé shakerato is an Italian iced coffee drink featuring freshly ground espresso shaken over ice and poured into a martini glass. On a sweltering Milanese day, nothing else quite hits the spot quite like a sneaky shakerato.

Read more: How to drink coffee like an Italian

Read more: The best coffee shops in Milan

Caffe shakeratoShakerato, source:




Stay in the know, subscribe to the LUXOS newsletter
Terms and Conditions