As Italians and Australians share a true passion for coffee I thought that I could offer some information on the most popular coffee drinks available in Italy, including some tips for foreigners keen to drink like the locals do. Please take a look:
Caffè lungo - If a shot of espresso seems too strong for you, try a caffè lungo. This literally means “long coffee” and is slightly weaker than a regular caffè as it has got more water in it.
Caffè ristretto - A “restricted coffee” is essentially a single shot of espresso made with less water. The results is a richer, more concentrated flavour ideal for the bravest coffee lovers and those who struggle to wake up in the morning.
Cappuccino - Cappuccino is strictly considered a breakfast drink. From an Italian point of view, milk is a meal itself so having a cappuccino after lunch / dinner would be unthinkable. If you really fancy a cappuccino after 11am - 12pm, go ahead... but don't be surprised if you get suspicious looks from people! To fully embrace Italian food culture, only stick with an espresso after lunch.
Latte - In Italy this just means “milk”, so if you order a latte you’ll simply get some cold milk. Enjoying a tall glass of steamed milk with a shot of espresso in it would be much better, so next time ask for a caffè latte.
Caffè corretto - This is not a morning drink, it’s an after-dinner treat. It's basically a shot of espresso “corrected” by adding a shot of liquor like grappa, Baileys or Sambuca.
A caffè sospeso (suspended coffee or pending coffee) is a cup of coffee paid for in advance as an anonymous act of generosity, a gift for people too poor to afford it... because everyone deserves the pleasure of a good coffee and should be allowed to participate in this social ritual. It seems that the tradition began around 100 years ago in the working-class cafes of Naples, where someone who had experienced good luck would order a sospeso, paying for two coffees but drinking only one. The unconsumed coffee would stay available for any poor person enquiring later, as a gift. This practice boomed during World War II and has found a revival since the global financial crisis of 2007/2008.
Many bars across Italy have joined an international network called Rete del caffè sospeso and proudly display the suspended coffee label — a black and brown sticker with a white espresso cup — at their windows.