Italian Coffee Protocol – Know the Ropes!

It’s the little things that make the difference.

Especially in regards to the coffee culture in Italy. Once you’ve spent ample time here you’ll understand that Italians don’t tolerate bad coffee nor do they bury mediocre coffee flavors in convoluted coffee drinks burdened with too much milk and exotic flavors (unless it’s a simple “corrected” coffee). No, quality straightforward coffee is the name of the game, as is the big social aspect of coffee in the Italian culture. People stand at the bar, catching up, making new friends, and transacting business.

Treating a person to a coffee follows an important protocol in Italy.

It’s very different from the “American style.” It’s an easy place to make a misstep and stand out as a foreigner who hasn’t done the simple homework of understanding an important daily ritual. In this week’s Italian Snippet, ItalyWise walks  you through the very genteel way that Italians regularly treat a friend or new acquaintance to a coffee. I encourage you to watch the short video and follow suit.



Now you know that you OFFER a coffee in Italy. If you ask someone if you can buy (comprare) a coffee, an Italian won’t take offense but they WILL take note. I can’t say this enough: when you take the time to learn and employ things like this, you’ll find that you also garner respect and appreciation much more quickly!

If you love Italian coffee…

I encourage you to check out my blog post “A Coffee Please, the Italian Way.”  Hint: It much less intimidating than navigating the Starbuck’s menu!

By |2019-03-12T12:26:36+01:00March 12th, 2019|Drinking in Italy, Eating in Italy, Italian Snippets|10 Comments

About the Author:

I’m an American expat living in Italy!


  1. Kathryn Smith March 14, 2019 at 5:15 pm - Reply

    This is one of the best ones yet! I love your tips, explanations and expressions. I can SMELL the coffee! Keep at it!

    • Jed March 15, 2019 at 2:17 pm - Reply

      Thanks for the encouragement, dear friend! Just wait until next week’s snippet…it’s about how to describe a sly, sneaky person. I had a blast with that.

  2. Kevin March 13, 2019 at 12:22 am - Reply

    Jed, we really try to be good ambassadors when we visit Italy….and any tips on how to create warmth between us and the Italian people is truly appreciated. This one is going into my proverbial toolbox…in the diplomacy file! 🙂

    • Jed March 15, 2019 at 2:16 pm - Reply

      I’m certain you guys bend over backward to be good guests and ambassadors! It will all come in handy and open more doors!

  3. Susan Pohl March 12, 2019 at 5:59 pm - Reply

    I love the new snippets. Quick, clear and informative. Hope you are well.

    • Jed March 12, 2019 at 6:15 pm - Reply

      Thanks, Susan! Let me know when you’re back in Umbria. I’ll be spending more time there this spring and summer!

  4. Gatto Nero March 12, 2019 at 2:05 pm - Reply

    Thanks for the tips, Jed.
    According to Manu Venditti, of Italy Made Easy, this can be simplified, as long as the context is clear, to “Offro io” (“I am offering”) — whatever the beverage, meal, event, or recipient.
    On an unrelated note, I’ve noticed that you roll your “r”s pretty emphatically in every instance. I was taught to do this only with a double “r” (“burro”) or in very specific cases (e.g., “Roma”), otherwise the spelling and therefore the meaning of a word might be misunderstood.
    Likewise with other double consonants (e.g., “posso”) the “s” isn’t given enough weight, according to how I was taught. (As you know, this can get you into trouble with words like “anno.”)
    Were you taught differently, or have you been given feedback about pronunciation from natives that is contrary to the rules I learned?
    Thanks again.

    • Jed March 12, 2019 at 2:44 pm - Reply

      Your comments, insights, and questions are greatly appreciated. Thanks for adding the shortened form to the list of options. In these Snippets, I’m erring on the side advising people to master the more polite forms of communication to get them grounded in the importance of showing respect. But, the shortened forms certainly are important as one gains confidence with the language. Yes, I tend to roll my r’s more emphatically and I know I need to learn to soften that a bit. However, with a tongue-twister like “offrirti” or “offrirvi,” which easily can become garbled without a little extra roll, I err on the side of a bit more emphasis. My other half, who is a native Italian, constantly reminds me of the importance of enunciating each and every letter when I speak. It’s why Italians often look at me cross-eyed when I ask them to spell something. Spelling out things other than less common names is pretty infrequent here in Italy since proper speaking is characterized by clear enunciation of all letters (an almost impossibility in the examples above without rolling the r’s a tad more). Add to this the amazing velocity with which Italian speak and it can be daunting. So, I’m still learning the ropes and I’m not at the point of being able to speed up while also softening my r’s! Soon, I hope!

  5. John DeSalle March 12, 2019 at 1:04 pm - Reply

    I really enjoy the new Italian Snippets, they are very well done. I look forward to your Italy Wise blog arriving in my email. Keep up the good work.


    • Jed March 12, 2019 at 2:45 pm - Reply

      Thanks, John, for your encouragement! I’ll keep at it!

Leave A Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

This website uses cookies to improve your experience. By continuing to use this website you consent to our cookie usage and privacy policy. Ok