So is everyone out there as confused as they sound when they order Italian coffee?
I thought I’d do a list of the definitions you need know in order to order efficiently.
Learn more here.
- Caffè (kah-FE) – We might call it espresso; a small cup of very strong coffee, topped with a caramel-colored foam called “crema”, a very important element in the best examples.
- Caffè Hag is a decafinated version. You can order a “decafinato” as well; Hag is the name of the largest producer of Italian decaf coffee and that’s the way you’ll see it on many bar menu boards.
- Bicerìn (pronounced BI-che-rin) – Traditional drink of Piemonte around Torino, consisting of dense hot cocoa, espresso and cream, artfully layered in a small glass. Not usually found outside of the Piemonte region.
- Caffè Shakerato (kah-FE shake-er-Ah-to ) – in its most simple form, a caffe shakerato is made by combining freshly made espresso, a bit of sugar, and lots of ice, shaking the whole deal vigorously until a froth forms when poured. Can have some chocolate syrup added. See, Caffe Shakerato – What’s This Italian Shakerato Thing.
- Caffè latte (kah-FE LAH-te) – Espresso with hot milk, a cappuccino without the foam usually served in a glass. This is what you might call a “latte” in the US. In Italy, outside of tourist joints, you run the risk of getting what you asked for – milk, or worse yet, steamed milk.
- Latte macchiato (Lah-te mahk-YAH-to) – Steamed milk “stained” with espresso, served in a glass. Ideally 1/3 espresso, 2/3 warm milk with a small head of foam – aka a coffee with milk that costs 5 times as much as coffee with milk.
- Cappuccino (pronounced kah-pu-CHEE-no) – a shot of espresso in a large(er) cup with steamed milk and foam. Not ordered by Italians after 11 in the morning.
- Caffè con panna – espresso with sweet whipped cream
- Caffè ristretto (kah-FE ri-STRE-to) – a “restricted coffee” or one in which the stream of coffee is stopped before the normal amount. The essense of coffee, concentrated but should not be bitter.
- Caffè corretto (kah-FE ko-RE-to) – coffee “corrected” with a drizzle of liquor. I like sambuca, but most prefer conac or grappa.
- Caffè freddo (kah-FE FRAYD-o) – Iced, or at least cold, coffee
- Caffè lungo (Kah-FE LOON-go) – a long coffee. They’ll let the water pour from the machine until the coffee becomes weak and bitter. Also called a Caffè Americano or American Coffee, which is also expressed as acqua sporca, or “dirty water” by Italians.
- Caffè con zucchero (ZU-kero) – espresso with sugar. Usually, you’ll add your own from a container at the bar, but in some places, especially in the south around Naples, the coffee comes with sugar and you have to order it “sensa zucchero” or without sugar if you don’t like it sweet.