A Double Espresso or a Cappuccino? The Dilemma of Choosing Coffee in Rome: A Journey Through the Heart of Italian Coffee Culture

Ah, Italy. A country synonymous with gastronomic delights, where pizza, pasta, and gelato reign supreme.

Written by
Simon Park

But, did you know that its heart also beats to the rhythm of coffee? That's right. Italian coffee is more than just a beverage; it's a way of life, a beautiful symphony of rituals and traditions. And the eternal city, Rome, is no exception. It's here where the choice between a double espresso and a cappuccino can become a delightful predicament.

A double espresso is the embodiment of strong, concentrated coffee, made with two espresso shots. In contrast, a cappuccino offers a harmonious blend of espresso, steamed milk, and milk foam. So, which one will you choose? Let's embark on a journey through the origins, preparation, and benefits of these iconic Italian coffee drinks, the best time to enjoy them, and a glimpse into Rome's fascinating coffee culture.

Double Espresso


The humble yet potent double espresso hails from Italy, where it has become an indispensable part of the nation's coffee scene. It's the perfect antidote for sluggish mornings and a much-needed caffeine boost on languid afternoons.


To create a double espresso, one must brew two shots of espresso by forcing hot water through finely ground coffee beans. This process results in a robust, full-bodied coffee brimming with caffeine and intense flavor.


For those seeking a swift and powerful coffee experience, the double espresso is a godsend. It's the go-to option for caffeine aficionados craving a morning or afternoon pick-me-up.



The cappuccino traces its origins back to Italy in the early 20th century. This delightful concoction has since conquered the world, becoming a staple in coffee shops across the globe.


To craft a cappuccino, one starts with an espresso shot, followed by equal parts steamed milk and milk foam. The velvety milk foam lends the cappuccino its signature appearance and smooth flavor.


The cappuccino is the ideal choice for coffee enthusiasts yearning for a creamy, frothy beverage without the overpowering intensity of an espresso. It's the perfect companion for mornings and afternoons when a more subtle coffee experience is desired.

Comparison of Double Espresso and Cappuccino

Double espressos pack a bold, punchy flavor that may not be everyone's cup of tea (or coffee, in this case). They cater to those who revel in the bitter, robust taste of strong coffee. Cappuccinos, conversely, offer a more delicate flavor profile. The fusion of espresso, steamed milk, and milk foam produces a creamy, airy coffee with a gentler bitterness.


In the strength department, double espressos reign supreme. With two espresso shots, they provide a potent caffeine kick for those in need of a jolt. Cappuccinos are milder, thanks to the balanced blend of espresso, steamed milk, and milk foam.


A double espresso requires only two ingredients: espresso and water. The cappuccino, however, demands three: espresso, steamed milk, and milk foam.

Best Time to Drink Double Espresso and Cappuccino


For a quick and powerful caffeine fix in the morning, the double espresso is hard to beat. If, however, a milder, gentler coffee experience is desired, the cappuccino is a fantastic choice.


Double espressos are a boon for coffee lovers seeking an afternoon caffeine surge. Cappuccinos, meanwhile, offer a soothing, more subdued coffee experience in the afternoon hours.


When evening rolls around, it's best to steer clear of double espressos, as their caffeine content can interfere with a good night's sleep. Cappuccinos, with their milder composition, make for a more suitable evening coffee companion.

Popular Coffee Shops in Rome

Tazza d'Oro

Steeped in history and exuding an air of timelessness, Tazza d'Oro is one of Rome's most celebrated coffee shops. With over 80 years of coffee-making expertise, this cherished institution has won the hearts of locals and tourists alike, serving top-notch coffee in a warm, historic setting.

Sant'Eustachio Il Caffè

Another Roman gem, Sant'Eustachio Il Caffè, boasts an impressive 80-year legacy of crafting strong, invigorating espressos. Frequented by coffee connoisseurs, this iconic establishment is a testament to Rome's enduring love affair with coffee.

Pasticceria Barberini

For those craving a side of pastry with their coffee, Pasticceria Barberini is a haven. This modern coffee shop entices patrons with its scrumptious pastries and inviting atmosphere, making it an ideal spot for morning and afternoon coffee breaks.

Coffee Culture in Rome


The roots of Roman coffee culture stretch back centuries, with the first coffee shop opening its doors in the 1600s. Since then, coffee has woven itself into the very fabric of the city's identity, shaping its customs and rituals.


In Rome, coffee transcends its status as a mere beverage. It's a tradition steeped in reverence and ritual. Romans approach coffee with a seriousness that is both endearing and inspiring. For example, coffee is typically consumed standing at the bar, and it is considered impolite to sit down while enjoying the drink.


Whether as a quick pick-me-up in the morning or an afternoon energizer, Romans savor their coffee with an unmistakable gusto. Although they often drink their coffee swiftly, coffee also serves as a social lubricant, facilitating lively conversations among friends and acquaintances.

How to Order Coffee in Rome

Common Phrases

When ordering coffee in Rome, it's helpful to arm yourself with a few Italian phrases. To request a double espresso, simply say, "due espresso, per favore." For a cappuccino, opt for "cappuccino, per favore."


Adhering to local etiquette is crucial when ordering coffee in Rome. Keep in mind that coffee is customarily consumed standing at the bar, and sitting down is frowned upon. Additionally, be mindful of the barista's time and order promptly, as the Roman pace of life is notoriously swift.


A few handy tips can go a long way when ordering coffee in Rome. To add a shot of liquor to your coffee, ask for a "corretto." If a touch of milk is desired, request a "macchiato."

So, what will it be? A double espresso or a cappuccino? The choice between these two iconic Italian coffee drinks hinges on factors such as the time of day, the occasion, and personal taste preferences. Whichever you choose, rest assured that Rome's vibrant coffee culture has something to offer every coffee lover, from the most discerning aficionado to the casual sipper seeking a caffeine boost.

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