How to Order Coffee like a Local in Trieste

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Capo in B
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by In Trieste

If you’re just passing through Trieste, most big cafes in town will let you order your cup of joe in English and make you feel like you know what you’re doing. But if you’ve been living here for some time, knowing how to order your coffee right is a must.

Coffee is a big deal in Trieste. From small coffee shops in every rione to historical cafes downtown – there’s something for everyone. Not to mention big-shot producers like Illy and Hausbrandt, who were founded in our city.

Learning how to order a coffee in Trieste is like navigating a cultural minefield. It’s true that Triestini will judge you on how you order your coffee, and if you don’t want to be marked down as a tourist, you’d better learn how to order your cup like a local. 

First things first – forget what you know about coffee in other Italian cities. Even though Trieste is Italian on the map, its heart and ways are unique.

How many types of coffee drinks are there?

We needed help with this important issue, so we wandered down to Antico Café San Marco, where a very friendly bartender Mauro helped us out.

What’s an espresso in Trieste?

A nero. It’s usually served in a cup and should be drunk fast – before the foam on top disappears and all the taste evaporates. That’s why you see so many people at the bar drink and go.

Capo in B

What’s a cappuccino in Trieste?

A caffelatte! And it’s never to be ordered after lunch (nor with pasta dishes) *Mauro laughed at this one.

And if I want to get a macchiato?

Say “Un capo, grazie”. This is an Italian macchiato served in a cup. And if you want the star of Trieste coffee drinks, ask for “Un capo in b,” which is coffee with a bit of milk, served in a small glass. 

Un nero in b

What does “in b” stand for?

In bicchiere – in a glass. So if you want a decaffeinated cup of coffee in a small glass, you ask for “un deca in b.”

gocciato

Ok, and if I want just a tiny bit of milk in my coffee?

Then you say “una goccia, grazie”. Goccia stands for “a drop” and that’s exactly what you’ll get – a drop of milk foam in your nero.

Un nero

What if I want a macchiato with a little extra coffee?

Then you should ask for a “capo scuro”.

capo chiaro

Ok, and if I want a little less coffee in my macchiato?

Then you should ask for a “capo chiaro”. 

Wow. You need a PhD in coffee to order here!

Nah, after a couple of tries you’ll get it just right. However, remember that these rules only apply to Trieste. If you go to, say, Monfalcone and ask for a “nero,” they’ll bring you a glass of red wine!

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