For Italians, coffee is more than an A.M. eye-opener – it’s a way of life. Thanks to generations of coffee roasters with a passion for excellence, real Italian coffee adds a distinctively smooth and velvety flavor to a variety of specialty coffee drinks. Here are some of our favorite classic Italian coffee drinks that can easily be made at home or ordered in Italy like a local.
If you want to look cool and sophisticated at the Italian coffee bar, never say ‘espresso.’ Instead, order a caffe, which is essentially the same thing—a single shot of espresso that Italians enjoy throughout the day. Because it’s meant to be consumed very quickly, it is usually served in small glass cups. For an authentic experience, head across the pond to Italy and drink it in the standing room with the locals. Or, make it yourself for a fast on-the-go espresso in the morning or as an after meal pick-me-up. A preferred choice for at home espresso is Lavazza Caffe Espresso, which makes a rich and creamy coffee with hints of floral and spice aromas.
A double shot of espresso, caffe doppio is perfect for when you need some serious liquid fuel to keep you going strong through deadlines and long days at work. Doubling down on espresso gives you an intense and bitter flavor profile, which can be balanced with a slice of Panettone, a sweet and spicy holiday cake that originated in Milan. A favorite Christmas dessert, panettone can be enjoyed any time of year; its candied orange and raisin flavor makes a sweet contrast to the strongest espresso.
Even more intense than an espresso or caffe doppio, a cafe ristretto is a concentrated type of coffee that’s made with half the amount of water. The result is a flavor profile with a perfectly balanced amount of sweet and bitter. Ideal for short coffees, Lavazza Grand Reserve espresso delivers an intense ristretto with notes of chocolate and spices. Its blend of Arabica coffee beans gives it a rich and smooth taste that is intensified even more by dark roast beans.
Italians never drink coffee with copious amounts of milk on a full stomach, but for some coffee drinkers an espresso on its own is too intense. The perfect solution is the caffe macchiato, a shot of espresso with a small dollop of foam and milk, which adds a bit of creaminess to rich coffee. Since it calls for significantly less milk than a latte or cappuccino, Italians find it perfectly acceptable to drink it any time of day. For a rich and creamy cup of coffee, a dark roast brew like Lavazza Crema E Gusto delivers a bold intensity that is ideal for short espresso coffees like the macchiato.
For those who love the taste of espresso but can’t handle the intensity of a single shot, the caffé Americano makes for a lighter alternative. The addition of hot water dilutes the coffee without taking away from its rich and robust flavor. When making Italian style coffee drinks, always use 100% Arabica beans that are specifically ground for espresso, which is a much finer grind compared to French press or regular coffee.
The most popular and well-known Italian coffee drink, the cappuccino gives espresso a creamy and mellow taste with equal parts milk and foam, making it the perfect cup to linger over at a coffee shop or in the comfort of home. Even with a substantial amount of milk, the rich notes of espresso are notable, especially with premium quality espresso like Lavazza. Whole milk makes a creamier cup, but if you want something lighter, almond milk or low fat milk produces a thick and airy foam that helps keep your coffee at a warm temperature. The foam also makes a fluffy base for soaking up sprinkles of cinnamon.
Another go-to at the coffee bar, a cafe latte is a cousin of the cappuccino but differs slightly with its milk to coffee ratio. A latte is a bit richer because it contains more milk and less foam. Because a latte is creamier and more substantial than other drinks, it works best on its own in the morning or paired with traditional Italian pastries like cannoli or biscotti. The medium bodied Lavazza Pienaroma is a smooth and mild blend that goes well with milk, making it the preferred choice for cappuccinos or lattes.
In this glorious Italian dessert drink, a cappuccino is cross-pollinated with a cup of hot chocolate, making a velvety and delicious coffee with strong notes of cocoa. With a thin layer of chocolaty foam, the coffee and chocolate makes a satisfying espresso and dessert combo in a single cup. For a real marocchino experience, use top quality cocoa powder and premium coffee with 100% Arabica beans like Lavazza Super Crema, their most popular blend. Make this drink a full-fledged dessert with a dollop of whipped cream and a generous dusting of cocoa powder and cinnamon.
For those who are sensitive to caffeine but love the delicious flavor of coffee, a caffe hag fits the bill as a shot of decaffeinated espresso. To maintain the aromatic qualities of the original coffee flavor, Lavazza beans go through a two-part carbon dioxide extraction method that removes the caffeine while retaining its distinctive taste. The result is a coffee that tastes like the real thing but doesn’t give you the jitters.
Get a taste of la dolce vita with coffee drinks made with real Italian espresso, an essential part of the Old Word culinary canon.