We’ve all been there at least once, usually the first time we order an espresso at a non-Italian bar in a foreign country: disappointedly sipping a non-espresso, our mood as deflated as the non-foam on top of it. It’s probably not the barista’s fault. It’s more likely to be our own: we didn’t ask for an espresso properly.
Never mind, we’ll do better next time! And now, thanks to this guide, it’s bound to be a piece of cake, right? Ready to go?
How to order an espresso around the world
Ordering an espresso in Great Britain
“One espresso single”. This is the formula you need to say to order a small cup of espresso coffee with just the right concentration.
Simply asking for an espresso is not enough, because in some cases, if the person the other side of the bar doesn’t realise you are Italian or is not familiar with our habits, they’ll probably serve you a coffee that is too long for our tastes.
Ordering an espresso in Germany
“Eine café”. With this phrase, it should all be plain sailing, but if you really want to run zero risks, you can add “espresso”. Be careful to pronounce your request correctly, with the emphasis on the “e”. Otherwise the German barista will understand “kaffe” and serve you a very long coffee.
Ordering an espresso in France
“Un café serré”. Or you could also ask for a cafè court. Both will get you the espresso you want. If you only order a cafè, you’ll be served a coffee that only fills about two thirds of the espresso cup, or slightly more.
Ordering an espresso in Spain
“Uno Café solo”. The Catalonians always have a soft spot for Italians and, if they pick up on your nationality, they’ll make sure that what you’re requesting is exactly what you want. In any case, Café solo is the correct formula to use in Catalonia.
In the rest of Spain you can use café solo or, even better, café cortido.
Ordering an espresso in Portugal
“Uno Café Expresso”. You might have heard that in Portugal the right thing to ask for is an italiana café, but note that if you use this phrase, you’re requesting a very short, concentrated coffee. To play it safe, a better option is to order a café expresso.
Ordering an espresso in USA
“One Coffee expresso”. To be sure you’re served an espresso coffee in the United States, this is all you need to say. Remember that this is America and so if you simply ask for a “coffee” that’s what you’ll get: the classic takeaway American coffee.
Ordering an espresso in Canada
“One Coffee expresso”. The same goes for Canada. Here too, good coffee is within easy reach if you simply request a coffee expresso.
Ordering an espresso in Australia
“One Coffee short black”. Let’s start by saying that coffee in Australia is truly excellent almost everywhere, because it comes very close to the aromas and flavours we’re used to. To order an Italian-style espresso here, we need to ask for a short black, with or without specifying the word coffee: they’ll understand!
And what about ordering a coffee in China? Africa and South America? And the North Pole? We’ll find out before long, in our next article, out soon. And wherever you go, it will do you good to refresh your memory on your coffee-drinking etiquette, so that you’ll always make an impeccable impression.