Italian Language Blog

UNESCO heritage status for espresso Posted by on Feb 3, 2022 in Culture

Ciao a tutti! 

Today I learned that Italy is seeking UNESCO heritage status for their espresso, which will actually be their second attempt. Last year UNESCO denied their application because two separate entities (the Consortium for the Protection of Traditional Italian Espresso Coffee and the region of Campania) both applied seeking that espresso be considered an “Intangible Heritage of Humanity.”

This year they have joined forces to submit one application for the benefit of the whole country, and espresso may just become an official symbol of Italian heritage. This will follow the art of the Neapolitan “Pizzaiuolo” – Pizza Maker which was added to the UN agency’s list in 2017. Sicilian puppet theater – Opera dei Pupi, truffle hunting, and the Mediterranean diet also don the list for Italy.

Of course, espresso is already well integrated in the daily lives of Italians, even without the “official status.” According to the Italian Espresso Institute, founded in 1998 with the specific goal of safeguarding and promoting the original espresso, more than 90% of Italians drink a cup of it each day.

The deputy agricultural minister Gian Marco Centinaio says:

In Italia il caffè è molto di più di una semplice bevanda: è un vero e proprio rito, è parte integrante della nostra identità nazionale ed è espressione della nostra socialità che ci contraddistingue nel mondo”. 

“In Italy, coffee is much more than a simple drink: it is a real ritual, it is an integral part of our national identity and is an expression of our social relationships that distinguishes us around the world”.

Photo from Pixabay, CCO.


In Italy you may have noticed that there are two words for the English word “cafe” – il bar” and “il caffè. At these places you’ll find coffee beverages, but often also alcoholic beverages, pastries, sandwiches, as well as other small things to sgranocchiare, munch on.

You will also note that Italians don’t take coffee “da portare via” – “to go”, but rather they spend their time savoring their small cups of coffee. They will either sit at a table and chiacchierare  (chat) slowly with friends, simply sit alone, or they may decide to take their coffee standing at al banco (the bar) before they are on their way.

Let’s take a look at some different coffee beverages in Italy and the differences between them:

Espresso — This is just normal coffee in Italy! If you want to order an espresso, simply say: “un caffè, per favore.”

Ristretto – “restricted” – an espresso with half the amount of water so it’s VERY concentrated

Caffè Americano — espresso diluted with a lot of hot water – Italy’s take on American coffee.

Caffè lungo — “long coffee” – coffee with a splash of hot water – stronger than a Caffè Americano

Caffè corto — Just a few drips of pure, concentrated caffeine

Caffè Americano — espresso diluted with a lot of hot water – how Americans typically drink it

*Cappuccino — equal parts espresso, steamed milk, and foamed milk.

*Latte macchiato — steamed milk “marked” with a splash of espresso

*Caffè latte — espresso with more steamed milk and less foam

Caffè macchiato — espresso “marked” with a splash of frothy milk

Caffè corretto — “Corrected coffee” espresso with a shot of liquor, usually grappa or sambuca.

Caffè con panna — Coffee with a dollop of whipped cream

Caffè affogato – “drowned coffee” – espresso poured over ice cream

Decaffeinato — Decaf coffee, served like espresso in a little porcelain cup!

*(Italians don’t order these drinks after 11 a.m – they only enjoy milky coffee in the morning.)


Allora, come vi piace prendere il caffè?

So, how do you all like your coffee?

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About the Author: Bridgette

Just your average Irish-American Italo-Francophone. Client Engagement for Transparent Language.


  1. William Auge:

    Salve Bridgette, l’espresso e’ mio modo preferito di bere caffe. Se desidero un tazza pui grande di caffe ordino un caffe americano. Quando si ordina un espresso in un “coffee house” in negli stati uniti e’ molto deludente averlo servito in una grande tazza di carta. Cio distrugge l’ntera esperienza.

  2. Sara H:

    Salve Bridgette. Caffe nere con zucchero (Sto studiando la bella lingua italiano da 6 mesi.) But I have been drinking coffee for more than 50 years. (Sto bevando caffe 50 anni)

  3. Leila:

    Mi piace un espressino (assomiglia un piccolo cappuccino). In estate, caffè in ghiaccio — preferibilmente soffiato — o meglio ancora caffè in ghiaccio con latte di mandorla (il liquore).

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