How to order an Italian Coffee – Sweetening Your Coffee and Non-Coffee Drinks

There are a few standard additions to your coffee if you don’t want to drink it amaro – fig: “black,” lit: “bitter” :


Zucchero:  Plain  white,  refined  sugar, which  will  usually  come  in  its  own single-serving bag. Some people collect the bags as almost every bar will have their   logo   and/or   specially-designed bag. Pronunciation: ZOOC-ker-oh Zucchero  di  Canna:  Unrefined  cane sugar that is darker and has larger grains (my preference).  Most bars  will  have this as an option, but not all. I usually have to stir a bit longer than the white sugar   to   make   sure   it’s   dissolved entirely. Pronunciation: CAN-nah

Dietor: A popular sweetener made with saccharin (similar to Sweet n’ Low). Pronunciation: dee-eh-TOR

Miele: Honey, an alternate and natural sweetener, is not available everywhere, but it is usually in packet form or in a little  carafe  on  the  bar  top. Pronunciation: MEEL-ay

Cacao: Though most of the bars will use unsweetened cacao (cocoa powder), it gives  a  different taste  to  your  coffee. Cacao can be added to almost any drink, and  many  bartenders  will  ask  if  you want cacao on top of your cappuccino (con cacao?, or senza cacao to say without) as it’s often added. Some will leave a little shaker on the counter for self-service. Pronunciation: cah-COW


Non-Coffee Drinks

Latte – Milk. If you ask for a latte, you will get a large glass of (most-likely hot) milk. You can also specify this by saying latte caldo (hot) or latte freddo (cold). Pronunciation: LAHT-tay

Cioccolata Calda – Hot chocolate. Hot chocolate in Italy is a very thick drink (almost pudding-like in some cases), and usually a  spoon is  necessary to  eat it properly and is served alongside. Pronunciation: choh-coh-LAT-ah CAL- dah

Tè – Tea. They will usually provide you with  a   carafe   of  hot  water   and   a selection of tea  bags,  or  with the  tea already brewing in the carafe when they deliver it. Note: Most bar owners do not look favorably upon ordering hot water and making tea with your own bags. Pronunciation: TEH

Camomilla – Chamomile tea, popular for nighttime drinking to help you get to sleep.

Acqua – some bars may serve a little glass  of water,  un  bicchiere  d’acqua, with your coffee (especially the further south you go), but in most cases you’ll have to explicitly ask for it and you’ll pay a small fee. If you’d rather have a full (half liter) bottle, make sure to ask for  una  bottiglia  or  bottiglietta d’acqua.  If  you  want  mineral  water, that’s frizzante or still water, naturale Pronunciation:   AH-kwah   freez-ZAHN- tay or nah-too-RAH-lay



One thought on “How to order an Italian Coffee – Sweetening Your Coffee and Non-Coffee Drinks

  1. Wow! The most interesting thing that I’ve learned today! Never knew most of the stuff you shared. Definitely an excellent read. Would you mind if I share this to my readers in my native language? (Malay language), I will link them to your blog for more updates and new knowledge on coffee.


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