So you're heading to an Italian cafe and want to order coffee like a local? In this guide, you'll learn how to order coffee in Italian. Plus tons of other expressions, vocabulary and specifics about ordering coffee drinks in Italy.
Guide to Coffee in Italy
Coffee is one of those things that brings locals and visitors together. When you visit Italy, it would be great to know how to order your coffee craving in Italian.
In this guide, I break down all the specifics – vocabulary and expression. Plus 12 specific Italian coffee drinks to try on your trip.
To begin, let's cover the most important question.
“Can I have a coffee please?” in Italian
Here is the simplest way to order a coffee in Italian.
- “Un caffè per favore.” A coffee please.
- “Vorrei un caffè per favore.” I would like some coffee please.
When you order a “caffè” you'll get an espresso. Espresso is the standard coffee in Italy. If you order an “espresso” or “doppio espresso” (double espresso) you might reveal your tourist status.
Italian word for coffee
The Italian word for coffee is caffè. It is pronounced as (kaf-feh).
Coffee in Italian is: il caffè (m).
How to say coffee in Italian
Coffee in Italian is caffè and is pronounced as (kaf-feh).
It is two syllables: caf·fè
Here's how to pronounce coffee in Italian:
How to spell coffee in Italian
Coffee is spelled almost as it sounds: c-a-f-f-è
But as you probably noticed, the Italian word caffè has an accent over the “e”. This accent (è) is called a grave accent. It is used to aid in pronunciation by indicating which sylable to stress when speaking.
How to Place your Coffee Order
To go beyond ordering a basic coffee, you'll need to know the common types of coffee in Italy. Here are the basic coffee drinks with a basic description.
12 Common Names for Italian Coffees
You'll notice that espresso isn't in this list. That's because espresso refers to the process not the drink. In Italy, coffee is espresso.
- Caffè: This is your standard coffee in Italy. It will be a black espresso served in a ceramic, porcelain, or glass cup. There are a couple of variations.
- Caffè lungo: A double espresso. You could also say doppio espresso, but not as common among locals.
- Caffè corto: Literally a “short coffee”, a caffè corto is a tiny bit of espresso.
- Caffè ristretto: Literally “restricted coffee”. This is a shot of espresso but with half the water. It is known for being sweeting and more concentrated than standard espresso.
- Caffè americano: Espresso with water added.
- Caffè macchiato: Espresso with a splash of milk.
- Caffè latte: Espresso with warm milk. This is what we know as “latte”.
- Cappuccino: Espresso with milk and milk foam. The milk foam forms a cap (
- Caffè con panna: Espresso with whipped cream
- Caffè corretto: Literally “correct coffee”, this is espresso with a shot of liquor.
- Cioccolata calda: Hot chocolate made with cocoa powder, sugar and cornstarch. Has a pudding-like consistency.
- Decafinato: Decaf coffee, served in an espresso cup
Something you'll notice about coffee sizes is that they are smaller in Italy. None of this 590 ml (20oz) of dark roast Starbucks. Yes, I'm looking at you Venti!
How Italian Coffee Shops Work
Much like coffee shops in Spain, cafes in Italy are different than most found in the United States. In Italy, you'll order a coffee drink and they will make it for you.
Then you will drink it.
None of this back and forth to add more sugar, then cream, then more sprinkles and powder. Just chose the drink you are craving and enjoy.
“To drink coffee” in Italian
- bere il caffè: to drink coffee
- consumare il caffè: to consume coffee
Is Lavazza how you say coffee in Italian?
No. But the marketing campaign by Lavazza, the Italian coffee manufacturer, would like you to believe that.
If you order “Lavazza”, you are asking for a brand of coffee. It would be like going to Starbucks and ordering a Folgers. Not only would that sound a little weird, it probably isn't possible. Likely the Italian cafe / bar you're at will have their own blend or brand of beans. You'll have better success looking for this at a supermarket.
They have branded themselves as “Italy's Favorite Coffee”. And according to their sales volume, this could be true – from a retail, consumer level. They claim to sell to 80% of coffee purchasing families (16 of 20 million families who purchase coffee choose Lavazza).
Lavazza manufactures 17 brands and products, including Qualità Rossa, Caffè Espresso, Il Perfetto Espresso, Caffè Crema, Crema e Aroma, Dek (decaffeinated), and Lavazza Blue Nespresso Compatible Capsules (NCC).
What does Lavazza mean? Lavazza is the name of the founder of the coffee company, based in Turn Italy. Lavazza was founded back in 1895.
What is coffee shop in Italian? Bar vs Cafe
There are two words for coffee shop in Italian: “il bar” and “il caffè”.
- il bar: Establishment where you can get coffee, alcohol, and some food.
- il caffè: Establishment where you can get coffee, alcohol, and some food.
These terms are used interchangeably. “Going to the bar” doesn't convey the same thing in Italy as it might in the US or Canada.
Some bars also sell sandwiches, snacks, and pastries. But bars and cafes don't typically serve full means.
How to pay for coffee in Italy: 2 systems
There are basically two systems. Pay before you get your coffee. Or pay after you drink it. Either way, you'll need to order, then go to the cashier to settle up.
- The common payment system is to order, drink, then pay. A small piece of paper is given to you to take to make payment.
- The less common method is sometimes used in tourist settings – airports and other areas frequented by visitors. You'll order, pay, then drink.
If you are unsure of the process, just take a minute to see how the flow is progressing. How are other customers handling the transaction? It can be overwhelmingly confusing to hit a language wall two sentences in at your first cafe.
Take a minute to observe people flow and other indicators and you'll do fine.
“Would you like coffee?” in Italian
- “Ti andrebbe un caffè?” Would you like some coffee?
- “Vuoi un caffè?” Do you want a coffee?
“More coffee” in Italian
- Più caffè. More coffee.
- Altro caffè, per favore. More coffee, please.
- Ho bisogno di altro caffè. I need more coffee.
These expressions can be helpful when asking your waiter for another shot.
How to say milk in Italian
It is probably no surprise that milk in Italian is latte.
A few things to consider when ordering a latte in Italy. Don't order a latte in Italy. If you do, you'll probably get a glass of milk. But if that's what you want, then you should order a latte.
Instead, you could order a latte macchiato – which would at least give you a taste of coffee.
But if you want an actual latte, you should order a caffè latte. This is an espresso with warm milk. This will be the closest thing to a North American latte – although it will be noticeably smaller than you're used to.
What does macchiato mean in Italian?
In Italian, macchiato means stained.
At the cafe, it can mean two things. To avoid being disappointed, be sure to specify which you want.
- Caffè macchiato (stained coffee) this espresso with a dash of milk
- Latte macchiato (stained milk) this is the opposite, milk with a splash of espresso
Macchiato is equivalent to the Spanish café manchado.
What is cup in Italian?
In Italian, the word cup is tazza.
Cup of coffee: tazza di caffè
Plural of caffè in Italian
Making coffee plural in Italian is actually very easy. Nothing changes.
Here's how it looks:
- One coffee: Un caffè
- Two coffees: Due caffè
In Italian, words that end in an accented letter (like caffè) don't change even when they are referring to more than one.
Learn more forming plural words in Italian.
“Andiamo” meaning in Italian
What does andiamo mean? This is an Italian interjection. As in: “Andiamo al caffè”. (English: Let's go to the cafe)
- Andiamo: Here we go / Let's go.
What do Italians call croissants?
The Italian word for croissants is cornetti.
These are commonly served at Italian coffee shops. And make a nice addition to your cappuccino. Cornetti range in flavors from plain (delicious with an espresso) to filled with jam, custard, or even a Amalfi lemon mascarpone filling.
What is a classic Italian breakfast?
To get into the Italian way of life, drop by a cafe and order cornetto e caffè.
This is a croissant (cornetti) and espresso (caffè).
According to Eater, this breakfast is eaten by more than 10 million Italians every morning. At costs between €2-3.
What is barista in Italian?
Barista in Italian is, well, barista.
Barista is an Italian word. The English equivalent is bartender (also, barman and barmaid).
In English, the term barista has come to mean someone who prepares and serves coffee.
What is the Italian word for sugar?
In Italian, the word for sugar is zucchero.
How to say very good in Italian
To say very good in Italian, you would say: molto bene
- For example, if the barista asked you: Com'è il tuo caffè? (How's your coffee?)
- You could respond: Molto bene, grazie. (Very good, thank you.)
Cream? No thank you. I take it black. Crema? No grazie. Lo prendo nero.
Vocabulary for Ordering Italian Coffee
- Caffè da portar via: to take away / to go. Not common in Italy.
- Tazza di caffè: coffee mug
- Caldo: hot
- Troppo caldo: too hot
- Tiepido: lukewarm
- Freddo: cold
- Zucchero: sugar
- Ghiaccio: Ice
- Dolcificante: sweetener
- Latte: Milk
- Cannella: Cinnamon
Ordering Coffee “To Go” in Italy: This isn't common in Italy. Coffee in paper cups is mostly seen on trains and ferries – not in local cafes and bars. But tourist areas that cater to American tourists (Florence and Rome) are beginning to see paper cups “to go” for customers.
Ordering Coffee in Italy (Video)
Learn how to order a coffee in Italy with this short video. This video will help show the basic differences in coffee drinks with Italian/English subtitles.
Keep learning: How to Order Coffee in Spanish
What type of Italian coffees are on your list to try? Have a tip or correction? Please let me know. I'm just learning Italian – any suggestions and additions are welcome.
Bryan Haines is a co-founder and writer on EnjoyJava! – and is working to make it the best coffee blog in the world. He is a travel blogger at Storyteller.Travel and photographer at Click Like This. He is also co-founder of Storyteller Media, a company he started with his wife, Dena.