How to order a coffee in Rome. It’s really a big deal?
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.
Be ready for a panoramic shot of ways to order a coffee in Italy. Is not easy 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.
How to proceed:
Head right into any bar and ask for “un caffè”.
Firstly note that in Rome we call “bar” a coffee house. Generally opens during working hours. Is not a place to drink alocohol or cocktails, is maingly a coffee house with a big offer of snacks and desserts. Surely selling espresso coffee and cappuccino. But do not undertake the importance of this place, many people have a quick lunch there, in other words is a traditional version of a deli.
You could say “un caffè, per favore” . Per favore means “please”, but 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.
How many ways to order one?
You’d be amazed. Same thing, coffee=espresso, could be ordered in totally different ways. Firstly the cup material. Many people likes to drink coffee in a little glass instead of the porcelaine standard cup for espresso. If you’d like this way let’s order “Caffè al vetro”. Maybe you’d be in the “Tazza grande “‘s team, in conclusion a lover of coffee served in a larger cup size.
However you’d like your espresso in a porcelain or a glass, you’d like to have it plain or “modified”. The most popular extra is “macchiato”(with a splash of something in). Caffè macchiato is one of the most preferred styles, maingly with milk. However milk can be cold or hot, and you’d need to specify.
But your espresso can be even “corretto” , that is to say “fixed”. If you’d like to fix your coffee you can add a splash of alcohol in. Easy? yes, but please specify which kind of alcohol you’d like. Roman people love their caffè corretto con Sambuca, with Grappa in northern Italy.
When asking for a “marocchino” you’d like your coffee with some milk froth on top and a pour of chocolate powder. looking like a micro-cappuccino.
If you are in a tourist area there may be tables and chairs for people to sit and drink coffee. However, be ready to pay more. There will be table service 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.