ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

How To Order An Italian Caffe Espresso Like A Local

Updated on July 25, 2017
adelebarattelli profile image

I am an English-speaking, freelance food writer based in Rome and love writing articles on various aspects of Italian culture.

Caffe Lungo Al Vetro.
Caffe Lungo Al Vetro.

Italian Coffee Culture

Nobody in Italy has Cafe Americano the filter style watered down coffee served in a larger cup. The only known kind of coffee ordered in bars or restaurants is Espresso. It comes from two different kinds of beans Arabica and Robusta, finely ground, passing through a special coffee making machine with hot water under pressure first invented in Turin in 1884

Espresso is a much "shorter" version of coffee and is rich in flavours.

To drink European coffee one is immediately part of a rich culinary tradition.

In Rome it is generally agreed that Pope Clement VIII got the ball rolling back in 1600 by saying "This Satan's drink is so delicious that it would be a pity to let the infidels have exclusive use of it." In 1905 Alfredo Danesi helped popularise the coffee we know today by mixing blends and spreading the culture of connoisseur coffee. In 1948, Achille Gaggia created a high-pressure extraction system that made Coffee with a more aromatic flavour topped with a characteristic Crema.


The common Cappuccino is in an entirely different category because it is made mainly with steamed milk and is consumed only for breakfast in Italy, never after lunch because it is believed to interrupt the post midday meal digestive process.

A third space

Today it is still a treat taken as part of the working day a chance to meet up with friends. The coffee itself is consumed quickly standing at the bar or seated at a table if one pays a little extra. For city dwellers and in smaller towns and villages a local bar is a third space ready all seasons for locals in the neighbourhood to visit when away from home and away from work, an essential part of the morning routine.

Perhaps the best way to understand cafe culture is the concept of Caffè Sospeso or suspended coffee in English. It is a unique part of Neapolitan culture, an altruistic act, a system still found only in Naples. A customer visits his local bar to drink a coffee on his own and leaves enough change for a client afterwards to have a free coffee, the idea being that drinking a coffee is an activity for two and that customers who can’t afford a coffee get to drink a free coffee as well. Users of coffee franchise chain loyalty schemes will probably find this idea familiar.

Coffee Culture
Coffee Culture


Expect to pay Euro 0.90 cents. you will need to order your coffee from a separate till or Cassa, then take your till receipt to the long counter and order your coffee via the barista.

Barista at work

Types of coffee

There have been listed up to 50 different ways of ordering a coffee in a bar. You can have all these different kinds of coffee in a small glass or in a ceramic cup.

To keep it simple, just the most common are listed here. It is important at the start to understand what short and long mean In an Italian coffee context. Long or short the same amount of coffee is placed in the coffee puck. Short means less water passes through the filter puck and long means more water passes through the coffee filter puck.

If you like the bar it's nice to leave a tip
If you like the bar it's nice to leave a tip

Bar etiquette.

It is important to treat the barista politely, it is a high-pressure role.

Keep your request simple and precise asking to add your own elements into the mix will cause problems.

Choose your bar with care, if you don't like it move on and try another.

In order not to confuse everyone never order: doppio ristretto as nobody knows what that is, or a slightly long, un Po' Lungo or a slightly short un Po' Corto. Be prepared to shuffle along the long bar sideways to allow other customers to access their coffee on the limited counter space it's not the place to linger, find a table and chair if you want to stay longer.

Confusing the Barista by asking for un Po' Lungo or  un Po' Corto
Confusing the Barista by asking for un Po' Lungo or un Po' Corto
Simple Espresso always called "un Caffe"
Simple Espresso always called "un Caffe"

Ordinary Espresso

Un caffè, served in a warm ceramic cup with thick base placed on a saucer served quickly on the bar counter.

Caffe Lungo al Vetro
Caffe Lungo al Vetro

Caffè Lungo

A longer version of Espresso because a larger quantity of water comes through the machine. It is often served in a small but slightly longer glass or Vetro Lungo.

Caffe Ristretto
Caffe Ristretto | Source

Caffè Ristretto

A restricted amount of water flows through the same amount of coffee making a "shorter" and concentrated liquid in the cup with less water than the previous Lungo.

Caffe Doppio
Caffe Doppio | Source

Caffè Doppio

Two coffee in one for the real caffeine addict.

Macchiato Freddo
Macchiato Freddo | Source

Caffè Macchiato Freddo or Caldo

Macchiato Freddo is when a small quantity of cold milk is added. Macchiato Caldo is when a small amount of hot but not foamy milk is added to an ordinary espresso. In the summer months some bars do a coffee frappe, cold pre prepared coffee that is stored in the fridge, served with ice and milk, it is often pre sugared.

Shakerato | Source


Espresso coffee and ice cubes shaken up in a cocktail shaker with either pre sugared coffee or sugar syrup. It is often served in a martini style cocktail glass.

Caffe' Schiumato
Caffe' Schiumato | Source

Caffè Schiumato

A coffee where the foam of milk created with the hot foaming milk wand is added with a spoon to the top of a standard espresso.

Caffe' Marocchino
Caffe' Marocchino | Source

Caffè Marocchino

Every bar has its version but essentially it is a Caffe' Schiumato where cocoa powder is added, some people refer to this as a mini Cappuccino or very rarely a Cafe Genovese. In Naples you can find Caffè alla nocciola a frothy coffee with hazelnut cream. Some versions in Milan add a spoon of chocolate Nutella paste into the coffee.

Caffe' Corretto
Caffe' Corretto

Caffè Corretto

A coffee where a small amount of Grappa or other spirit alcohol is added. It is popular in the winter months where Sambuca is added as an alternative for its body warming and digestion properties. Often the alcohol spirit is served separately in a small shot glass.

Caffe d orzo
Caffe d orzo

Caffè d'Orzo

A coffee made of roasted barley grains with a bigger grind size compared to coffee, an alternative to decaffeinated coffee even though is not made from coffee. It is often served to children as a coffee substitute.

al Ginseng
al Ginseng | Source

Caffè al Ginseng

A coffee with milk cream, sugar and extract of ginseng root. You can tell it this style of coffee as it is lighter in colour.

Caffe Hag.
Caffe Hag. | Source

Caffè Decaffeinato.

A coffee without caffeine. The most famous brand in Italy is Caffe Hag. For non sugar versions ask fo artificial sweetener, called "dolcificante".

Pocket Coffee, grab one if you can.
Pocket Coffee, grab one if you can. | Source

Pocket Coffee

Not really a coffee drink as such but a chocolate covered praline with an espresso center, first sold in 1968, they are hugely popular in Italy and are released in batches throughout the winter months.

illy espresso menu
illy espresso menu

Illy Coffee

The Genoa-based Company illy deserves a special mention as they have recently started to create their own espresso menu using their own brand coffee, it can be found only in illy branded bars. This brand has researched the culture of tasting coffee in some depth.

They claim the act of tasting coffee is a two stage process:

- one the crema the coffee flavour and body that one first tastes.

- two the second stage the mental analysis and comparison of the coffee with known remembered flavours, the aromas of freshly baked bread or chocolate, the processing of the flavours within the coffee.

They also discourage adding sugar as it affects the coffee flavour profile.

Hot Chocolate
Hot Chocolate

Hot Chocolate

Perhaps if you are still feeling hungry why not try a late afternoon treat, ask for a hot chocolate with fresh cream or Panna Fresca a sweet cup made with quality chocolate that is especially nice in the winter months. Besides the major well known Swiss chocolate brands look out for Italian brands Venchi, Domori, Caffarel.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)