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The coffee bar culture in Italy is no myth: Italians are serious about their espresso. When you visit a bar anywhere in Italy, the menu is more or less the same. All drinks are based on the single espresso and mixed with water, steamed milk, milk foam, sugar, chocolate, and more. The names of drinks are very logical (see our guide below).

Rome Accommodation Italian Coffee Infographic

Ordering Coffee in Italy

If you visit your neighborhood bar, chances are the barista will be delighted to help you choose and order your coffee. It’s a great part of the cultural experience of visiting Italy, so rather than offer a “translation guide” per se, we’ll explain the logic behind the names of the most popular coffee requests.

un caffè – an espresso

cappuccino – named after the capuchin monk robe of the same color

macchiato – (mah-kee-a-toe) literally means “stained”, so a caffè macchiato means “coffee stained with milk” while a latte macchiato means “milk stained with coffee. You can order a caffè macchiato either caldo (hot) or freddo (cold), which refers to the temperature of the milk. Cold milk will make the espresso tepid while hot milk will keep the coffee hot.

caffè americano – this generally means a double espresso diluted with water, unless the bar is equipped with an American-style coffee maker

Coffee Etiquette in Italy

Italian coffee drinking culture is different than in the states. You won’t find as many coffee shop/lounge spaces like you will in the states (although more and more the concept is catching on in Rome and we wrote a post about it).

Pay First

The general custom is that you pay for your coffee and pastry before you order, and the barista will mark your receipt. This isn’t always followed – especially when the bar isn’t busy, but it’s a good idea to always pay first. An espresso at the bar shouldn’t cost more than about €1. Check out our post on identifying local vs. tourist prices in Rome.

At the counter vs. sitting down

At many coffee bars in Italy, the price for a coffee at the counter is different than if you choose to sit down (the idea is that you pay for table service while at the bar is “self service”). It’s not the case everywhere, so it’s best to ask, especially if you pay beforehand.

A glass of water is free

Although you can’t order tap water at 99% of the restaurants in Italy you can request a glass of water at the bar if they don’t just give you one automatically.

Where to get the best coffee in Rome

Here are a few of our favorite places to grab a great quality coffee:

Faro

If you’re into the hipster scene back in the states, then you’ll find comfort in Faro. Here the artisanal coffee reigns. Sure you can get your classic espresso or cappuccino or any other Italian coffee drink, but why not try some of the more researched brews, served in a wine glass? You’ll find drip-over coffee and plenty of tables to set up shop for a while and get some work done.

Via Piave, 55 | Website

Marigold

The new nordic-style spot in Ostiense (near Rome’s pyramid), serves a classic Italian coffee menu in a cosy, minimal space. The quality of the coffee and the machine – a high-end La Marzocco – all help make your coffee experience top knotch. Add an avocado toast or scone with homemade butter to complete the fantasy.

Via Giovanni da Empoli | Website

Roscioli Caffè

Roscioli is more well known for its bakery, pizzeria, and trattoria, but within it’s small empire near Campo de’ Fiori you’ll find Roscioli Cafè. The space is very small (there’s a large communal table in the back but by midmorning you’ll have a hard time finding a seat). Nevertheless, the croissants are some of the best in Rome, and the service is optimal! Worth the visit.

Piazza Benedetto Cairoli, 16 | Website 

Caffè Greco

Caffè Greco is an establishment in Rome – the oldest cafè in Rome and one of the oldest in Europe. Caffè Greco opened its doors in 1760 (more than 100 years before the espresso machine was invented) on Via Condotti, one of the most prestigious addresses in the Eternal City. Throughout the more than 250 years that the caffetteria has been open, it’s been the working space for such literati as John Keats, Lord Byron, Goethe and many others. The classic interiors of damask walls and velvet sofas tell a story of the centuries that passed through these walls.

Via dei Condotti, 86 | Website

Make your Italian Coffee at home in Rome!

Campo Marzio large vacation rental by Rome Accomodationd

AP60 Campo Marzio vacation rental by Rome Accommodation can accommodate up to 14 guests in 6 bedrooms and 5 baths just minutes from the Spanish Steps! After spending the day exploring Rome, dine al fresco on your private terrace!

Browse over 40 vacation rentals in the heart of Rome! Visit Rome-Accommodation.net, a leader in management holiday apartments in Rome for over 10 years. Use filters to narrow your search results by neighborhood, number of guests, nightly rate, and amenities! Check out our special offers for the guaranteed lowest prices online! *Note a traditional Moka for making your espresso at home is included in every apartment!

How do you take your coffee when in Rome? Tell us about your favorite Italian coffee in the comments below!


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