What Is Italy’s Favourite Coffee?

Italy’s favourite coffee is espresso. This small yet powerful shot of coffee defines Italian coffee culture. Italians drink espresso throughout the day, often standing at a bar for a quick, energising break.

However, there are different types of coffee Italians love, from cappuccino to macchiato. Discover how to order coffee like a local and savour the unique flavours that make Italian coffee so special.

Whether you’re planning a trip to Italy or want to bring a taste of Italy to your home, these insights will help you enjoy coffee the Italian way.

The Essence of Italian Coffee Culture

Italian coffee culture thrives on daily rituals and social interactions. Friends and families gather at cafes to enjoy their favourite Italian coffee drinks. These shared moments go beyond merely drinking coffee, embodying a lifestyle.

  • Ritual: Italians often start their day with a cappuccino, which includes espresso, steamed milk, and milk foam. This beverage is typically enjoyed with breakfast.
  • Social Gathering: Throughout the day, Italians frequent cafes for a shot of espresso, also known as un caffè. This serves as a quick break and a chance to socialise.
  • Tradition: Drinking coffee in Italy often involves standing at the bar counter, fostering brief but meaningful interactions.

When and Where Italians Enjoy Their Coffee

Italians enjoy coffee at specific times and places, which adds structure to their daily routines. Understanding these habits helps you appreciate the essence of Italian coffee culture.

  • Morning: The day begins with a cappuccino at a local cafe or bar.
  • Mid-Morning: Around 11 AM, you might opt for an espresso to keep energy levels high.
  • Afternoon: A caffè macchiato (an espresso “stained” with a drop of milk) is popular around 2-3 PM.
  • Evening: Post-dinner, a small caffè espresso helps with digestion and rounds off the meal.

Locations for enjoying coffee also vary:

  • Cafes/Bars: These are the heart of Italian coffee culture, bustling with locals who gather to sip their favourite coffee drink.
  • Home: If you can’t visit a cafe, using a Moka pot to brew authentic Italian coffee is a common practice among Italians.
  • Piazzas: Open squares in cities, often featuring outdoor seating, make for delightful spots to enjoy a coffee while people-watching.

By embracing these rituals, you can experience the true spirit of Italian coffee culture.

Exploring Italy’s Favourite Coffee Varieties

Espresso: The Quintessence of Italian Coffee

Espresso represents the core of Italian coffee culture. You order a single shot of espresso, commonly referred to as caffè. An espresso shot serves as a quick, strong caffeine boost, consumed throughout the day. It’s traditionally served in a small cup, fostering social interactions at the bar counter.

Cappuccino: A Morning Delight

Cappuccino embodies a popular morning drink in Italy. It’s made with one part espresso, one part steamed milk, and one part milk foam. Typically enjoyed at breakfast, you might also customize it with cinnamon or cocoa powder. During the summer, an iced cappuccino provides a refreshing alternative.

Macchiato and Caffè Latte: Variations on a Theme

Macchiato offers a blend of espresso and a few drops of hot milk. Drink a macchiato in the morning or as an afternoon energy boost. On the other hand, caffè latte consists of a larger proportion of steamed milk with espresso, making it a milder option. It is perfect for those who find a straight espresso too strong.

Regional Specialties Across Italy

Different regions in Italy boast unique coffee specialties. For instance:

  • Caffè Shakerato: A chilled and shaken espresso, often served with ice and sugar, popular in summer.
  • Caffè Corretto: A shot of espresso “corrected” with a splash of grappa, sambuca, or brandy, usually enjoyed post-meal.
  • Bicerin: A Turin specialty made with layers of espresso, chocolate, and milk.

Explore these regional treats to fully experience the richness of Italy’s coffee tradition.

How to Order Coffee in Italy

Italian coffee culture offers a variety of coffee drinks suited for different tastes and times of the day. Here’s a guide to help you understand the menu:

  • Espresso (Un Caffè): The classic choice when you order “un caffè,” meaning a single shot of espresso served in a small cup.
  • Caffè Doppio: Double the amount of an espresso shot.
  • Ristretto: A more concentrated shot of espresso with less water, making it stronger and richer.
  • Caffè Macchiato: An espresso “stained” with a small amount of milk foam.
  • Cappuccino: Equal parts espresso, steamed milk, and milk foam. Typically enjoyed in the morning.
  • Caffè Latte: More steamed milk and less foam compared to a cappuccino.
  • Caffè Corretto: An espresso “corrected” with a splash of liquor, usually grappa or sambuca.
  • Caffè Shakerato: A refreshing espresso shaken with ice until frothy.

Tips for Ordering Coffee Like a Local

Follow these tips to enjoy your coffee like an Italian:

  • Pay First: Pay at the cashier before ordering at the counter.
  • No Takeaway: Enjoy your espresso at the bar counter instead of ordering to-go.
  • Simplify Your Order: Use specific terms – for example, “un cappuccino,” rather than customising your request.
  • Know the Timing: Order cappuccino before 11 AM, as drinking it later is uncommon.
  • Understand Pricing: Prices differ at the bar counter (al banco) and at the table (al tavolo). Sitting at a table usually costs more.
  • Accompany with Water: It’s common to receive a glass of water with your coffee to cleanse your palate.

Understanding these elements helps you navigate Italian coffee culture confidently, ensuring you enjoy the experience like a true local.

The Art of Making Italian Coffee at Home

Choosing the Right Equipment: Moka Pot and Beyond

To make the perfect Italian coffee at home, start with the right equipment. Moka Pot is a popular choice for brewing a strong, robust coffee. The Moka Pot uses steam pressure to push water through ground coffee, creating a rich flavour.

  • Moka Pot: Ideal for making a strong and authentic Italian coffee.
  • Espresso Machine: If you prefer convenience and consistency, use an espresso machine. It delivers the perfect shot of espresso with the right crema.
  • Grinder: Freshly ground coffee beans ensure maximum flavour. Invest in a good quality grinder for the best results.

Key Techniques for Perfect Italian Coffee

Mastering a few techniques can improve your home coffee experience. Follow these methods for a perfect brew:

  • Grind Size: For espresso, use a fine grind. For the Moka Pot, opt for a medium-fine grind.
  • Water Quality: Use filtered water to avoid any impurities affecting the coffee taste.
  • Brewing Time: In a Moka Pot, allow the water to boil slowly, and remove it when the top chamber is full. For an espresso machine, a shot should brew in about 25-30 seconds.
  • Crema: Aim for a thick, creamy layer on top of your espresso. This enhances the flavour and texture.
  • Milk Frothing: For cappuccino or latte macchiato, steam the milk until it creates a smooth, velvety foam. Use whole milk for the best texture.

By using the right equipment and mastering these key techniques, you can enjoy the exquisite taste of Italian coffee at home. Whether it’s a caffè in the morning, a cappuccino to start your day, or an afternoon latte macchiato, these steps will bring the essence of Italian coffee culture to your kitchen.


Embracing Italy’s coffee culture at home isn’t just about the drink itself but the experience. With the right equipment and techniques, you can recreate the rich flavours and aromas that make Italian coffee so beloved.

Whether you’re starting your day with a strong caffè or enjoying a leisurely cappuccino, these small efforts can bring a touch of Italy into your daily routine.

So grab your Moka Pot or espresso machine and start brewing – your perfect Italian coffee moment awaits!

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