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What makes authentic Italian coffee drinks different from American specialty coffee?

If you’ve never traveled to Italy, you may be surprised to learn that what we think of as Italian coffee has slight differences in Italy. Here are some details about the Italian roots of the most popular coffee drinks available in America. All of the options covered in this blog post are available on Moriondo Coffee machines, which offer delicious authentic Italian coffee drinks in addition to the filter coffee setting.

How authentic Italian coffee drinks compare to American coffee


Authentic Italian coffee drinks depend on what we call an espresso shot in English. However, in Italy, an espresso shot is simply called “ un caffé “ (Oon kahf-feh) which translates to “a coffee.” Essentially, the drip coffee we brew in America doesn’t exist in Italy.

An espresso shot is the result of near-boiling water pressed through finely ground coffee. It has a higher acid content than drip coffee, and it has a thicker consistency.

Italians drink espresso at all times of the day, and it is the most popular drink to order at a “bar” which means “coffee shop” in Italian. Don’t expect to order beer there!

Why do we call Italian coffee “espresso”?

So how the word “espresso” became the standard word for this drink in English? In the late 19th century, an innovator named Angelo Moriondo developed the first patent for an espresso machine, which relied on steam to reduce coffee’s brewing time.

However, his machine design remains a mystery, because his machines were never produced. Our business name, Moriondo Coffee honors this innovative leader who inspired the next generation of espresso machine inventions.

Later in 1903, a businessman Luigi Bezzera made a machine that he called “fast,” which in italian is “espresso.” However, while his design became the standard for espresso machines at that time, he sold the rights to it in 1905. So, it was actually Desidero Pavoni who patented the machine and made it famous. Coffee has never been the same since.

What’s the difference between espresso and filter coffee?

The first difference between these two types of coffee is the grind. Coffee ground for espresso results in fine powder-like coffee that produces a thick, almost syrupy texture. Filter coffee, however, relies on coffee with a much coarser grind. This allows the water to filter through the grinds in a slower process that results in liquid that’s almost the same consistency as water.

Next, the water temperature is much hotter for espresso. This is how it originally got dubbed, the “fast coffee” of Italy. It only took moments to serve a fresh coffee cup. Filter coffee requires lower temperature water and more time to filter through the grinds.


Called “caffellatte” In Italy, this drink starts with a shot of espresso and it is mixed with about 200 ml of warm milk. The amount of milk and the pouring technique may differ in an American-style latte, but these are matters of personal preference. In Italy, caffeellattees are popular for breakfast, so they are not usually ordered after 11am.


Cappuccinos in Italy contain a third coffee, a third steamed milk, and a third milk foam, frothed to perfection. Using a delicate pouring technique, the barista should ensure that the foam floats on top of the other layers of liquid. Cappuccinos are served in a large bowl-shaped cup.

As with the caffeelatte, Italians only order cappuccinos in the morning at breakfast, and it is paired with sweet foods. It would appear very strange to order a cappuccino with a sandwich in Italy.


Apparently, this style of coffee drink satisfied American soldiers seeking drip-style coffee in Italy during World War II. The Americano mimics filter coffee by diluting an espresso shot with hot water added after the standard brewing process.

What to serve sustainable Italian coffee drinks in your office?

In addition to these essential Italian coffee drinks, the Moriondo Coffee machine offers the options of drip-style coffee, milk (for further creativity), and hot water for tea. Carrying on the Italian tradition of invention, Moriondo Coffee machines produce no other waste beside the grit of spent coffee grinds that can fertilize plants or go into the compost bin.

Learn more about Moriondo’s sustainable, pod-free coffee.

Originally published at on June 3, 2019.



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Erica Eller

Erica Eller


#Sustainability content marketer specializing in climate tech and ESG | GARP SCR & GRI Sustainability Professional certs (in progress) |