“A non-fat, decaf, iced skinny mocha with caramel drizzle on top” is a sentence that you won’t hear in Rome (though perhaps not for long). Independent and family-run coffee shops and cafés still reign supreme in the Italian capital with locals stopping for a caffeine fix multiple times a day. Un caffè, an espresso, is the most popular order, followed by a cappuccino at breakfast time, but what other coffee drinks are available? Get the lowdown on what to order during your trip to Rome with our mini-guide.
Caffè Ristretto, or “tightened” is made in the same way as an espresso but with half the amount of water, resulting in a different flavour profile and a slightly thicker mouthfeel. Less water means the extraction process is shorter, which, in turn, reduces the amount of bitter notes (these take slightly longer to dissolve into the water being pushed through the coffee grounds). A perfectly made ristretto should be fruiter and sweeter than a regular espresso.
This elegant drink is made by shaking an espresso shot in a cocktail shaker with ice cubes. The chilled coffee drink has a frothy head and is often served in a martini glass. Let the barista know if you take sugar when ordering – stirring it in afterwards will mean you lose that foam they’ve worked so hard for! One of our favourite ways to drink coffee in the warmer months.
Originating from Piedmont in the north of Italy, the marocchino consists of a shot of espresso topped with foamed milk and then dusted with a little cocoa powder. Some bars add a dollop of whipped cream or a drizzle of Nutella, too. The name, which means Moroccan in Italian, is derived from its light brown color – similar to marocchino leather, which was popular in Italy in the 1930s. We love the elegant marocchini served at the coffee shop of Chiostro del Bramante, one of the most beautiful spots in town to sit and sip.
Affogato al Caffè
Part dessert, part drink, the affogato is made by pouring hot espresso over a scoop of gelato to create a sweet treat with contrasting temperatures. You might also see this in restaurants, where you can expect the ratio of gelato to coffee to be a little higher and you might also have more choice of gelato flavor, like pistachio or hazelnut. In coffee shops, crema gelato – a creamy custard, sometimes flavoured with vanilla – is most common. Eat quickly and enjoy every spoonful.
Granita al Caffè
Eating granita is a great way to deal with the relentless heat of summer. This semi-frozen dish is a tipical Sicilian breakfast food but Romans love the coffee version at any time of day, particularly if it comes from the historic Tazza d’Oro coffee shop, located a few steps from the Pantheon. Their version is more slushy than creamy and is served with an indecent amount of whipped cream. An indulgent vehicle for both caffeine and calories.
An espresso ‘corrected’ with a small splash of liquor such as grappa, brandy, or sambuca. A little drink that packs a powerful punch, it’s often served after dinner to supposedly help with digestion but can be ordered at any time of day.
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Crema al Caffè
An almost-frozen coffee slush, crema al caffè is less indulgent than a gelato but more luxurious than a regular coffee, or even granita. It’s made by churning espresso, sugar and cream in a machine so it has smaller crystals than a granita and is a found in cafès throughout spring and summer. It’s also a favorite drink to order at beach bars so keep an eye out for these friendly coffee machines if you take a day trip to the coast near Rome.