Whether it is served lungo, restretto, tiepido, bollente, macchiato, zuccherato or amaro, coffee in Rome is some of the best in the world. What makes it taste so good? It’s not the air, the water, the machines or even the roast. It’s the human factor — the magic touch of an expert barista.
Don’t ask for a latte at a Roman bar unless you want a glass of milk. Coffee with hot milk, usually served at home in an extra-large cup or in a glass, is caffelatte.
When coffee is in a cup, with milk steamed to produce a head of froth, it is a cappuccino (cappuccio in local vernacular).
Tip: Only tourists ask for a cappuccino after a meal; both caffelatte andcappuccio are considered breakfast drinks.
If you can’t do without a touch of milk in your espresso, ask for a caffe macchiato (literally, “spotted”). For the same with cold milk, ask for a caffe macchiato freddo.
Espresso spiked with a drop of brandy, grappa or Sambuca (the Roman anise-flavored liqueur) is called caffe corretto, which means “corrected.” It is always served after, not with, dessert.
Customers at Italian bars will specify the desired temperature (bollente is boiling; tiepido is lukewarm), container (tazza, “cup,” or al vetro, “in glass”) and degree of froth (poca schiuma, “not much foam”).
The also specify volume: ristretto is a more concentrated espresso, a caffe lungo is made with extra water; a doppio is a double espresso. None of these comes anywhere near the large volume or thin consistency of a caffe americano, which should be ordered only in large international hotels, if at all.