P.C.: The local Italy

When it comes to food, wine and coffee, Italians undoubtedly do it better than the rest of the world. Coffee culture is revered in Italy. From extensive menus to etiquette, Italians take their daily cup of joe very seriously.

This article will help you in understanding the unique culture of coffee in Italy.

Coffee – the Italian way 

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Unlike the rest of the world, where everybody loves sipping their drink sitting comfortably in a café, Italians like to drink their coffee standing at the counter in an Italian bar. They sip their cup of joe while chatting animatedly with friends or while enjoying a peaceful moment completely by themselves.

If you spend some time at any Italian cafe, you will find people walking in groups, in pairs or by themselves, giving their orders to the barista and then drinking their espressos in tiny sips before paying at the cash register and walking out.

The whole ritual takes approximately 6-7 mins in total.

The Four Ms

For Italians, a perfect cup of coffee must satisfy what they call the Quatro M del Caffe’ (the four M’s of coffee).

1) Miscela (blend) – the coffee blend used has a vital role.

2) Macinadosatore (grinder) – The machine which grinds the coffee beans and measures out the right weight of coffee grounds to make the perfect espresso. Preferably, this is 7g of coffee grounds. However, it is also necessary to take into consideration how fine the coffee needs to be ground.  For instance, if the air is very humid, it is recommended to grind the coffee more coarsely and vice-versa. The grinder needs to be adjusted daily or even several times a day to the weather conditions.

3) Macchina per Espresso (espresso machine) – This complex coffee machine originally designed by an Italian has undergone various developments and improvements over the last hundred years or so to serve you a perfect cup of Italian espresso every single time.

4) Mano (hand) – the expert hand of the barista controls all the mechanical elements to produce the perfect cup of coffee. A good barista needs to know how to use and maintain as best as possible the different machines. The baristas must know the taste of their clientele to acquire the right coffee blends and roasts.


When it comes to roasting, traditionally, Italians prefer coffees that have been roasted to a very dark brown colour.

The essential oils for the coffee’s aroma are composed of 800 different molecules. This type of dark roast delivers itself well to the process of extraction through which espresso is prepared.

Perfect espresso:

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The dose for an ideal espresso is 7g. The pressure of the espresso machine should be between 15 and 18 atmospheres and the pressure of the water– about 9 atmospheres.

The temperature of the water must be between 88 and 95 degrees Celsius and the temperature of the espresso between 78 and 82 degrees Celsius straight from the machine.

The ideal extraction time is 30 sec. The liquid in the small espresso cup should be 25-30ml. The best way to taste the espresso is to serve it in a slightly flared at the top and heated cup (35-40 degrees Celsius). If the machine doesn’t have a heating attachment, hot water can be used as an alternative.

According to Italians, to enjoy an espresso at its best, it needs to be drunk at a temperature of about 60 degrees, not more than 2 minutes after being made.


Be it drinking espresso at a bar or serving coffee at home, Italians observe the so-called galateo del caffe’. According to Italian coffee etiquette, you need to use good china cups with plates to pre-heat the cups and to pour coffee until about two-thirds of the cup is filled.

Coffee with a glass of water:

In Italy, coffee is served with a glass of water. It is recommended to have a small glass of water to clean up your palate, before sipping your espresso. Italian bars keep this tradition alive by serving you a tiny glass of water for free with your espresso. Though sometimes you must ask for water and pay for it.

Coffee vending machine:

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The coffee vending machine is easily accessible in every Italian office, establishment, and even school. Providing at least ten different types of coffee – from a short and long espresso to a drink made of coffee mixed with hot chocolate – the machine is coin-operated.

Popular Types of Italian Coffee:

There are many types of drink that Italians love as their favourite cup of coffee.

Caffe Liscio: a shot of espresso in the Northern Italian region of the Veneto.

Lungo: espresso with a bit more water than usual.

Ristretto: an intense and condensed espresso.

Cappuccino — a shot of espresso with a bit of milk and milk foam.

Macchiato: a small cappuccino with less milk.

Corretto: an espresso with a shot of liquor (usually grappa if you are in the Veneto in the North of Italy).

 Marocchino: an espresso with a layer of frothed milk dusted with cocoa.

Latte: just the milk in a glass, which is why order caffé latte. 

Caffe al ginseng – a nutty and sweet hot drink prepared with ginseng extract and then mixed with coffee.

Caffe d’orzo – a coffee-like drink made of barley.

Caffè Americano — American style coffee (watery).

Decafinato — Decaf coffee, served as an espresso in a small cup.