Expressing Your Love for Espresso in Italian

You may have to order an espresso at your favorite coffee emporium in the United States to get the rich, dark brew you crave, but in Italy, you get the same drink by asking for caffè (kahf-feh) (coffee). In Italy, you rarely hear the word espresso, unless il cameriere (eel kah-meh-ree-eh-reh) (the waiter) says, "un espresso per la signora" (oon ehs prehs-soh pehr lah see-nyoh-rah) (one espresso for the lady), as an announcement that this espresso is yours.

Of course, even in Italy, people drink more than just caffè. You can enjoy a nice cup of cioccolata (chohk-koh-lah-tah) (cocoa), various sorts of te (teh) (tea), succhi di frutta (sook-kee dee froot-tah) (fruit juices), and a wider selection of water than most North Americans enjoy.

In Italy, even water is not just water. If you travel to Italy and ask only for water, you may be surprised when you are served with a glass of acqua naturale (ahk-koo-ah nah-too-rah-leh) (natural water), which comes from the faucet. If you like acqua minerale (ahk-koo-ah mee-neh-rah-leh) (mineral water), which can be acqua gassata/gasata (ahk-koo-ah gas-sah-tah/gah-zah-tah) (carbonated water), also called acqua frizzante (ahk-koo-ah freez-zahn-teh), or acqua liscia (ahk-koo-ah lee-shah) (noncarbonated water).

In estate (ehs-tah-teh) (summer), you may want your coffee or tea over ghiaccio (gee-ahch-choh) (ice). Ask for caffè freddo/shakerato (kahf-feh frehd-doh/sheh-keh-rah-toh) (iced coffee) or freddo (teh frehd-doh) (iced tea).

When you order a drink in Italy, you need to specify how much you want — a whole bottle, a carafe, or just a glass. You can use the following words:

  • Una bottiglia di. . . (oo-nah boht-tee-lyah dee) (A bottle of . . .)
  • Una caraffa di. . . (oo-nah kah-rahf-fah dee) (A carafe of . . .)
  • Un bicchiere di. . . (oon beek-kee-eh-reh dee) (A glass of . . .)
  • Una tazza di. . . (oo-nah taht-tsah dee) (A cup of . . .)
  • Una tazzina di caffè (oo-nah taht-tsee-nah dee kahf-feh) (A small cup of coffee)
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