Rome is crazy about coffee. For about one euro, you can get a teeny cup of pure ecstasy. It’s probably the easiest thing to do in Italy, but not so easy if you don’t know some tricks.
Gourmetaly gives you a panoramic shot of ways to order a coffee in Italy. It seems to be very complicated explaining this ritual, but in ordinary life is something people do without paying so much attention to, except if something is not make as they expect.
Head right into any bar and ask for “un caffè” (please can be omitted if you smile:).
Some bars have you pay first, then go to the counter while others do the opposite. It is a courtesy to leave a small coin to ‘hold the paper down’ for the server.
Elegant bars offers you a little chocolate together with the teeny cup, may be a little chocolate ball or square, or a delicious roasted coffee seed covered by chocolate (bitter and sweet at the same time).
From northern to southern Italy there is no need to specify that you’re ordering an espresso: if you just say “caffè” at the cashier you’re definitely ordering an espresso. Any other variation has to be specified.
If you are in a tourist area there may be tables and chairs for people to sit and drink coffee, but probably there will be table service with waither and often bars post two sets of prices for those who want to drink standing at the bar (bancone) or sitting at a table (al tavolo). Expect to pay more if you’d decide to sit down, but the cost can be well worth it if you’ve found a cozy little spot for people watching.
Want to learn more? Enjoy our Espresso and Gelato tour of Rome.