laced coffee

The Italian Laced Coffee: a ritual that combines coffee and liqueur

The Italian laced coffee is what we need after the great binges of Easter and Easter Monday! The perfect ritual to work off all the holiday delicacies and enjoy the amazing aroma of the coffee and the personality of the liqueur.

The origins of Italian laced coffee

An all-Italian habit for about a hundred years. For the Italian laced coffee, we combine espresso with something else. Usually a liqueur. This can vary depending on the tastes of each person, but above all on Italian regional habits. We know well that Italy has a long history of culinary traditions that are closely linked to the region they belong to, still respected and handed down. It seems that the birth of the famous laced coffee is because of the factory workers of northern Italy. In fact, according to the story, during their work breaks, the workers added a drop of grappa to their coffee. Most likely also to defend themselves from the winter cold. Slowly this habit then spread throughout the Italian peninsula, with representative regional variations.


Laced coffee is one of the most authentic Italian traditions.

How to prepare a perfect correct coffee

The biggest mistake when preparing laced coffee is to think you can use any liqueur or spirit. This is wrong! You need to know how to choose a quality product and know how to dose it so as not to cover the flavor of the coffee, which is fundamental. However, we should never underestimate the importance of the quality of the coffee. The right amount of alcohol is 5 millimeters per cup. In fact, the important thing is to balance the two flavours. For coffee, the right amount should be 30 millimeters. Alcohol should always be added at room temperature and when the coffee is not very hot, so all the aromas of the liqueur can better express. The important thing is not to use fruit or citrus liqueurs, because they make the coffee acidic. On the other hand, vodka or gin make the coffee too bitter.

italian laced coffee

The perfect laced coffee is a question of balance of flavors.

Laced coffee with Grappa and the other variations

The original laced coffee is the one mixed with Grappa. Grappa is the Italian alcoholic grape-pomace (or vinaccia) drink, typical of northern Italy. The first spirit in Italy to be mixed with coffee. Connoisseurs advise using just Grappas obtained only fron the pressing of grapes harvested from different grape varieties, and not from a single one. This is because the flavor is more delicate. Let’s see together some of the other variations of Italian laced coffee.


Grappa is the most used spirit for spiking coffee.

Laced Coffee with Sambuca liqueur

It is one of the most famous combinations. Sambuca is an Italian sweet liqueur. For its preparation we usually mix star anise and elderberry. Sambuca’s origins are from Marche region, and therefore particularly appreciated in central and southern Italy. The freshness of anise in fact makes the taste of coffee even more pleasant. Also very famous is the Caffè con la mosca. It is a small glass of Sambuca with a few coffee beans to munch on while sipping the liqueur. The most famous Sambuca brands in Italy are: Molinari, Ramazzotti, Bosco and Antica.

Moretta di Fano: the laced coffee from the Marche region

Moretta Fanese is the traditional laced coffee of Marche region and originates from the city of Fano, also widespread in the cities of Pesaro and Urbino. In this case the coffee is mixed with anise liqueur, rum and brandy. Finally, they add also lemon zest. According to tradition, the Moretta was invented by sailors and fishermen from the port of the city of Fano. In those days they tried not to waste anything. In fact, usually even leftover liqueurs were recycled and mixed together. Then they had the idea to add coffee. The flavor of the Moretta is strong and sweet at the same time. Definitely to try!

moretta di fano

Moretta di Fano is the typical laced coffee of Marche region. Copyright

Laced Coffee with Brandy or Baylees

If you prefer creamy textures, the coffee can also be spiked with Baylees. Especially for who don’t appreciate the strong taste of alcohol, because Baylees is quite delicate. As for Brandy, this can also be flavored with some spices. Usually cinnamon and cloves. Just heat the Brandy a little on the fire together with the spices and add some orange zest at the end. The delicate and acidic aroma of Brandy is perfect with coffee.

baylees spiked coffee

Baylees and Brandy are two perfect liqueurs to mix with espresso.

Laced Coffee with Mistrà

The perfect mix seems to be coffee and anise. Mistrà is a dry distillate, not sweet as Sambuca liqueur. Typical of central Italy, particularly the Marche region. It is obtained from green anise and Badian anise. The tradition of spiking coffee with Mistrà is a rural and peasant tradition. Very similar to Anisetta, another aniseed liqueur typical of southern Italy, Mistrà was a clandestine distillate, as also happened in Veneto with grappa, to safeguard the recipe. In fact, they started to distill Mistrà to avoid paying stamp duty on the production and consumption of alcohol.

The non-alcoholic laced Coffee

For those who don’t like alcohol, in Italy you can also enjoy a delicious non-alcoholic laced coffee. In Naples and Salerno, caffè nocciola (hazelnut coffee) is a real specialty. A fashion of the 90s, it is a simple moka machine or espress machine coffee, to which add a toasted hazelnut mousse. A sort of cream prepared with hazelnut paste, icing sugar and whipped cream. Another special coffee is the one from the city of Lecce. A summer variant from Salento, much appreciated for its freshness. It is a cold coffee, prepared with the moka machine, mixed with some almond milk.

caffè nocciola

Caffè nocciola is a typical delicacy of Naples and the Campania region.

A typical Italian ritual, that endures over time. Laced coffee is perfect for digesting because it speeds up the metabolism, but above all it is a treat that we cannot help but indulge in.