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Coffee and tea in Rome

Expresso yourself

Expresso, Cappuccino, Latte, Americano

There are a fair few variables when ordering coffee in Rome. Here are the basics: Expresso is the concentrated coffee in a small cup; Cappuccino is half milk/half coffee in a tea-sized cup with a frothy head (“schuma”); Latte is an expresso in a tall glass topped up with milk and Americano is similar to instant or filter coffee. Have you got all that? The variants of an expresso are: “in vetro” (in a shot glass), “lungo” (less concentrated), “corto” (more concentrated), “corretto” (with liqueur in it, like sambuca) and “macchiato” (with a drop of hot or cold milk in it), which is sometimes ironically called a Scottish cappuccino.

Sit down or stand up

Coffee in Italy is a quick, stand up affair whilst tea, on the other hand, is served with a pot of hot water and caddy of different teas that are bought over to you. You’ll need to ask for milk as Italians drink their tea with lemon and the blend of local brands reflects this. You are welcome to sit down for a longer coffee too but waiter service will triple the price. All bars should display “prezzo al banco” (at the bar) and “prezzo al tavallo” (table price). It is also customary when having a coffee at the bar to pay first at the “cassa” (till), place your receipt on the bar and hold it in place with a small change tip.

Some recommendations

Tazza D’oro

Via degli Orfani, 84 (Pantheon) • www.tazzadorocoffeeshop.com

Babington’s Tea Rooms

Piazza di Spagna (Centre) • http://babingtons.net

Gaetano Costa 

Via Sicilia, 45 (Via Veneto) • www.gaetanocostarestaurant.com

Cafe Sant’Eustachio

Piazza Sant’Eustachio, 82 (Pantheon) • www.santeustachioilcaffe.it

The experience and costs

On average, a stand-up expresso in Rome costs 80 cents and a cappuccino Euro 1.10. Table price depends on where you are. Prices could be as high as 3 and 5 Euro, respectively, so bring some reading material, a laptop or just people watch. Breakfast at a Roman bar is not complete without a cornetto (brioche), which costs 1 Euro and is either plain or filled with jam, cream, liquid chocolate, apple or honey. Too many calories? You’ll burn it off with all the sightseeing!

Tour tip – Wake up and smell the coffee Cool

When visiting monuments it is always a good idea to get up early. In June it gets light at just before 5:00 and you have 2-3 hours before the traffic gets going to enjoy some of the most beautiful piazzas, churches and squares almost to yourself. The Pantheon has two of the city’s most famous bars either side of it, which are also roasting houses. If the wind is up the church’s magnificent open eye dome fills with the aroma of Arabia’s finest. If you are not good at mornings then make a night of it on the town and end your festivities with a cappuccino and cornetto in a bar like the ones mentioned, just as the Romans do.
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1 Comment

  1. Thanks for the tips! However would almost certainly be frowned upon drinking cappuccino in the evening!!

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Stephen content writer Rome

By Stephen Wheeler Licensed Tourism translator