Italians and coffee: 23 different ways to enjoy an espresso

coffeePlanning to visit Italy? Well, it is time to start and learn some tips about coffee.

Yes, it will not be as easy as pie. It is not only espresso: this is just the very first step.

Any idea about how many types of coffee Italians are using to ask when they enter a bar? You could not even imagine. Even we Italians, we do not know how to answer this question. How to manage this situation.

We do not even know which kind of coffee we really want.

We just love coffee. That is it.

It looks like you just enter the bar and ask for the type of coffee you feel like at the moment: does not matter if it exists or not; it will anyway, in a few seconds.

Poor bartenders, I perfectly know what that means. And by writing this list, I started to laugh since I remember all the requests people asked me, when I was working in this sector.


Welcome to Italy. So, please choose a comfortable sit and enjoy your stay. It is going to be a very long trip towards the infinity crazy variety of coffee requests Italian do.

Funny, incredible, amazing. Lovely to know.


23 types of coffee: the crazy list

*1 Caffè (espresso coffee) – small cup

Yes, it exists. It is very rare to find someone who still asks just for a simple, easy, basic espresso coffee. Very strong, typical from Italy.

Probably the bartender will look at you in a really weird way, since nobody is just asking for a espresso coffee: she/he will not believe to your request. But then she/he will be happy to make just a “normal” coffee.


*2 Caffè macchiato caldo (coffee espresso with a drop of hot milk) – small cup

Let us start the trip into this endless coffee crazy circle. This one is still a small one, the espresso, where you add a few drops of heated milk. One of my favourite ones.


*3 Caffè macchiato freddo (coffee espresso with a drop of cold milk) – small cup

The same as the previous one, but the milk you are going to add is cold, not hot.

Yes, these are important differences.


*4 Caffè ristretto (shorter version of espresso coffee) – small cup

Here we talk about the quantity of the coffee. If you ask for a “ristretto”, you are asking for a shorter version of the espresso one, so it is going to be more strong than it (because the coffee is diluted in less water).


*5 Caffè lungo (bigger version of espresso coffee) – small cup

And this is the opposite of the previous one. When you ask for a “caffè lungo”, you are asking for a bigger version of the espresso one, so this is going to be more quantity and less strong (because the coffee is diluted in more water).


*6 Caffè doppio (double coffee) – small cup

In this case, 2 espresso served in just one cup. Yes, you can take it when you really need to wake up yourself in just a few seconds. So powerful, it gives you a lot of energy. You can start and run here and there after drinking it.


*7 Caffè d’orzo in tazza piccola (barley coffee served in a small cup)

Time to move a bit further, and explore another galaxy that still belongs to the coffee Universe. So, this is a barley coffee, and it is actually without caffeine. So it is perfect for the afternoon or night time, if you want a coffee but you are afraid of taking too much caffeine. This could be a nice solution.

Served in a small cup.


*8 Caffè d’orzo in tazza grande (barley coffee served in a big cup)

Like the previous one, the difference is that this one is served in a big cup: again, it comes to quantity.


*9 Caffè corretto (coffee espresso with a shot of liquor) – small cup

This is just a “normal” coffee, even too much. Since it is boring to ask for a normal one, when you ask for a “corretto”, you are actually asking to add a bit (just a few drops) of some liquors. Usually the coffee is “corrected” with sambuca or grappa, but you can choose what do you like the most.

Perfect after lunch or dinner!


*10 Caffè decaffeinato (coffee espresso without caffeine) – small cup

And this is the lighter version of coffee espresso. Wondering why? Because it is made without caffeine, and so it is less strong. For example, when I really want to drink a coffee at night (actually after 5pm) I make this one, since otherwise I think I will not be able to sleep at nighttime.

Coffee related problems. It happens.


*11 Caffè schiumato (coffee with milk foam on top of it) – small cup

When it comes to “caffè schiumato” you are going to add to your coffee the foam of the heated milk: not the liquid, only the foam. On the coffee. Exactly like that.


*12 Caffè con panna (coffee with cream on top of it) – small cup

Still espresso, served in a small cup, but at the top in this case you are going to get some cream. This version is made especially for sweets addicted, like me.


*13 Caffè marocchino (maroccan coffee) – small cup

This is another kind of evolution of the espresso coffee. It is usually served in a glass cup. It is a shot of espresso coffee, a layer of foam and cocoa powder at the top. Sometimes some bartender can add chocolate topping at the base.


*14 Caffè al ginseng (coffee with ginseng) – small cup

Another coffee that belongs to the “latest trends” category. It is an espresso coffee prepared with ginseng extract, and it is very sweet. I mean, it is sweet for me, and I really like sweets. So, take your choice, I just wanted to warn you.

A very cool choice for the afternoon!


*15 Cappuccino – big cup

The famous Cappuccino: I think no explanations are needed. Yes, sometimes it can happen that someone is going to ask for the basic version. By coincidence, by mistake. But, cappuccino is cappuccino. It should be made by 125 ml of milk and 25 ml of coffee, with a lot of foam.

Perfect for the morning, as a magic breakfast cup!


*16 Cappuccino chiaro (light cappuccino) – big cup

And this is the cappuccino galaxy. So, when you ask for a “cappuccino chiaro” you actually want a less quantity of coffee in your cappuccino, less than the classic version.


*17 Cappuccino scuro (dark cappuccino) – big cup

Exactly the opposite. Looking for a cappuccino with more coffee than the basic version? This is the solution for you.


*18 Cappuccino decaffeinato (cappuccino without caffeine)

Your amazing cappuccino this way is served with coffee without caffeine. The creativity has no limits, is not it?


 *19 Cappuccino con cacao (cappuccino with cocoa powder at the top)

Plenty of times you can also hear people asking for “cappuccino con cacao”: basically it the same cappuccino, but the waiter is going to put also cocoa powder on top of it.


*20 Caffè shakerato (shaked coffee) – big cup

I love it. Perfect especially for the summer session, it is made by coffee, some spoons of sugar, ice cubes and you have to shake them. When it is served, it is just amazing. Mainly available when it is spring or summer, but you can ask anytime, sometimes in autumn is so warm you want to refresh yourself with some cold coffee!


*21 Latte macchiato

Looking for a glass of milk but also a bit of coffee? This is the best solution then.

It is a glass of milk with some cream and bit of coffee poured on top, really just a few drops of it. But still, you are enjoying your super glass of milk and also find some caffeine in it.


*22 Caffè latte (coffee with milk) – big cup

Wondering which is the difference in between cappuccino and coffee milk?

Yes, you are not the only one, also Italian do. Actually “caffè latte” is the same as cappuccino, but there is no foam at the top. Is that a big difference? Yes, of course, now you know it.


*23 Caffè sospeso (suspended or pending coffee) – small cup

And I would like to end this magic list with a very special quality of coffee: the pending coffee. It is a Neapolitan tradition began during World War II: it consists of paying the price of two coffees, but receiving and consuming only one. The other coffee, the “sospeso” one, is for the needy who came after into the bar. So, when a poor person entered the bar, she/he would ask if there was a “sospeso” available, and in that case, she/he would have received a coffee for free.

Just amazing!


So… Have you got headache? I have.

Is it too hard just ask for an espresso? Yes, it is.

Now you know the story behind the famous espresso coffee, and its types, its varieties.

You can be sure of one thing though: the list is not even complete. It is always “under construction”.

A new chapter is going to be written anytime.


It is not only a coffee: it is a dream, it is a relaxing moment, it is a kind of lifestyle.

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