The Etiquette Tip To Consider When Ordering Coffee In Italy

Italians are so obsessed with coffee that they've designed very specific rules of etiquette that should be followed even when serving coffee at home to family and friends. Coffee etiquette also applies to all coffee houses or "bars," as they're called in Italy. One etiquette tip you should heed is how to pay for your coffee. Coffee bars are always crowded, particularly in the morning when Italians need a jolt of caffeine before heading off to work. When you walk inside, you'll have the choice of standing or sitting at a table. There's typically a cover charge at a table, which will significantly increase the cost of your coffee. Consequently, almost everyone will be standing at the counter ("il banco"). 

Make your way through the crowd to the counter and put in your order.  The barista will then hand you a ticket, and in most cases, it's expected that you pay for your coffee at the cashier before your coffee is delivered. Coffee bars generally don't accept credit cards for coffee, which cost about 1 Euro, so it's a good idea to have coinage on you. You may see a bowl or a tray at the cashier, which is where you'll deposit payment. Tipping in Italy isn't expected, but it's okay to leave a few coins on top of your ticket for the barista. Alternatively, some of the smaller and less busy coffee bars will allow you to drink your coffee first and then pay, but this practice isn't as common.

Be careful of what coffee you order

An Italian barista is a highly regarded professional who's been trained to pour coffee so that each cup is perfect. No matter how busy the bar is, it's polite to greet your barista with a respectful "buongiorno" before you order. A regular "caffe" in Italy will always be espresso. An Americano will be espresso with hot water added. If you prefer milk, order a macchiato or a cappuccino. A word of warning about cappuccino: Only order it before noon. Italians believe that a cappuccino isn't good for digestion after a heavy meal and only drink it at breakfast. Latte is a popular American coffee drink, but in Italy, "latte" is the word for milk, and unless you ask for a caffe latte, you'll be served hot milk.

Coffee houses have been in operation in Italy since 1683, and most open early and close late at night. Many offer pastries or sandwiches during the day and switch to serving alcohol and dinner at night. Italians take their coffee about four times a day, but they don't hang around the bar for more than a few minutes. They usually quaff back their espresso and are out the door. There's a reason why. Coffee is served at the precise temperature of 140 degrees Fahrenheit and must be drunk within two minutes to achieve its full flavor. It's considered bad manners to blow on the coffee to cool it, so be like an Italian and chug it back.