12: How to order an iced coffee in Italy

by | Dec 22, 2020 | Podcast | 0 comments

If you’ve been to Italy in the summertime, you know it’s HOT. Like so hot I actually start to hate it here and I question why I ever moved here in the first place hot. So besides eating all the gelato I can find, one other way to cool off is with an iced coffee. Of course, this isn’t traditionally part of the Italian coffee culture, but as that culture has started to shift, more and more places are offering cold coffee varieties. First let me say, if you walk into an old school coffee bar, they might still not know what you’re asking for, and in some regions some versions are different than others, but at least these will give you something cold and coffee filled on a hot day.

Option 1. Caffe Shakerato. Pronunciation is important here, if you ask for a “shake -erato” they might literally not understand you. If you get it right, you’ll see a delicious sweetened espresso shaken with ice and poured into a martini glass. It doesn’t contain milk or alcohol (despite the glass) and it’s a great, sweet pick me up. You can also order it “senza zucchero” no sugar, but be sure to tell them before they mix it up since the sugar is mixed into the hot espresso.

Option 2. Crema al caffe or crema DI caffe. Sometimes you’ll see a mixer contraption on the bar mixing a light milky colored coffee mixture. These are like extra creamy coffee gelatos. Sweetened and oh so creamy, they  are delicious to eat with a spoon on a boiling hot day. Some places will even make them fresh. 

Option 3. Caffè con ghiaccio. So, this might be how you think to order an iced coffee, but in fact this is a specific drink often found in Puglia, that is coffee, with ice and almond milk. It will not be like your traditional iced coffee you likely know, but it is a summertime staple in certain parts of Italy. In some places though, if you order this you might just get an espresso with a cube of ice inside a tiny cup.

Which brings me to option 4. To properly order an iced coffee you need to ask for a “caffe freddo”  or a caffè IN ghiaccio (as opposed to con giaccio that we talked about before)This should give you a tall glass, a shot of espresso and some ice cubes thrown in. You can ask for it with “latte” milk or without. Also just a disclaimer in some places in Italy this might get you something like crema al caffe. The only thing I can suggest is just to clarify as much as possible. Oh italy…

Hope that helps next time you need to order something cold at the bar!


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Ciao, I'm Rachel

I am obsessed with everything Italian! After years living in Italy, being married to an Italian, getting my Italian citezenship through my Pugliese lineage, a BA in Italian language and literature, then a MA in Italian Art History, I have lots of experience with this country! Hang out with me to learn more!