Green espresso cup full of coffee.
Home » Italian Recipes » Caffè Corretto – Italy’s Easiest Coffee Cocktail 

Caffè Corretto – Italy’s Easiest Coffee Cocktail 

Do you love coffee? Do you love cocktails? If so, you’ll love Italy’s caffè corretto!

This easy and traditional caffè corretto cocktail matches two magical ingredients: a shot of liquor and a shot of coffee!

While most of you out there are looking to drink this in the afternoon or after dinner, perhaps as a digestif, I have spotted some old-timers here in Italy having their 8:00 am caffè corretto cocktail to start their day. 

It’s been over ten years now that I have been in Tuscany, drinking caffè corretto, mostly at bars with my Italian husband on the weekend (after lunch). Living in Italy has converted me and I wasn’t always a regular caffè corretto drinker. And it gets worse! Not only do I jump at any chance to order one, I make them at home too! 

In this article, I will cover all things related to caffè corretto including:

  • when to drink caffè corretto
  • what it is
  • how to pronounce it
  • my caffè corretto recipe 

What Is Caffè Corretto?

Close up of bottle of grappa over a green ceramic espresso cup and saucer.

Caffè corretto is an Italian coffee drink made with a shot of espresso spiked with a bit of liquor, usually grappa, sambuca or brandy. Because of this, the ABV will differ depending on the specific caffè corretto recipe.

The type of alcohol used depends on where you are in Italy. Historically, Italians would add what they made at home but today, you can get it in any region with any kind of alcohol that you like.

What Does Caffè Corretto Mean?

Caffè corretto literally translates to “corrected coffee” in English. There are several myths about how this coffee got its name but the most plausible is linked to Mussolini. 

During the era of Facism, coffee became too expensive so many Italians were forced to drink caffè orzo, a dark, bitter beverage made from barley. To make it taste better, they say that it was ‘corrected’ with a touch of liquor and the caffè corretto was born.

How To Pronounce Caffè Corretto 

Caffè corretto is pronounced cahf-FEH cohr-reht-toh in Italian.

Listen to the pronunciation of caffè corretto here:

Types Of Caffè Corretto

The type of caffè corretto you choose will be based on what type of liquor you like.

Caffè Corretto Alla Grappa

hand holding a bottle of grappa al miele from top view on a marble board.

Caffè Corretto with grappa, made from grain alcohol infused with grape pomace. My favorite is with grappa al miele (made with honey), which has a more delicate flavor. 

Caffè Corretto Alla Sambuca

Bottles of sambuca on supermarket shelf in Italy.

Caffè corretto made with sambuca, an Italian anise-flavored liquor from Southern Italy. The best comes from Campania and Lazio

Caffè Corretto Al Brandy

Hand holding bottle of brandy in front of supermarket shelf in Italy.

Caffè corretto made with brandy, produced from distilling wine. If you want to be specific, ask for cognac. 

Good To Know: You won’t find caffè corretto made with Italian liquors such as limoncello, mirto or other sweet dessert wines such as Marsala or Vin Santo.  

When To Drink Caffè Corretto

close up of a barista working at an espresso machine close up from the back.

Historically, a caffè corretto was enjoyed at any time of the day throughout Italy, but in particular, after lunch and dinner, usually at a bar. This being said, there is never not a time you shouldn’t be drinking a little something in Italy so anytime is socially acceptable.

While it’s less and less common to see Italians drinking a caffè corretto in the morning, I do still see it but mostly with older generations and typically, they are men. 

I only like them after dinner but don’t let my habits keep you from ordering one at the counter at any Italian bar throughout the day! 

How Caffè Corretto Is Served

Green ceramic espresso cup on small green saucer.

Most typically when you order a caffè corretto in Italy it will look like a regular espresso. The barista will make your coffee and then add a splash of liquor to it. 

One rare occasions, such as at restaurants (never at a bar), will you get two cups served together, one with an espresso and one with a shot of liquor. If this is the case, it’s then up to you to mix them together. Tip one into the other (usually the liquor into the coffee cup) and take a swig. This allows you to add as much or little of the shot to your espresso. 

How To Order Caffè Corretto

White marble surface with green ceramic espresso cup and saucer, bottle of grappa, and moka pot.

To order a caffè corretto, ask for a “corretto alla…”, choosing the booze of your choice. 

For example:

Vorrei un caffè corretto alla grappa, per favore.
“I would like a caffè corretto with grappa, please.”

Prendo un caffè corretto alla sambuca, per piacere.
“I will have the caffè corretto with sambuca, please.”

Vorremmo due caffè corretti al brandy, per favore.
“We would like two caffè corretto with brandy, please.”

I have also heard Italians ask the barista to literally correct their coffee after its been served,

Me lo correggi, per favore?.
“Would you correct it for me, please?”

In this case, you will see the barista add a splash to the espresso cup right on the counter. No frills, no extra cup and no measuring! This is the true Italian way!

Caffè Corretto Recipe

This easy to make caffè corretto recipe can be made just as easily as any other coffee beverage but will pack that extra punch you are looking for! 

Ingredients

Espresso

side view of a glass espresso cup on a white saucer on a counter with a spoon next to it.

I suggest a good Italian coffee to make your espresso. For my suggestions on the best Italian coffee read Italian Coffee Brands – To Enjoy in Italy and at Home. You will need about 1 shot of espresso, which is the equivalent to about one ounce. 

Digestif 

Choose from grappa, sambuca or brandy. You will need more or less ½ ounce, OR just a splash. Italians never measure, nor should you! Make it as strong or weak as you like. That’s the beauty of Italian cooking and drinking! 

Method

moka pot open on stove top from top view.

Brew one shot of espresso. You can make the espresso coffee either in a moka pot and measure out a one ounce serving into a small espresso cup or use another type of espresso maker such as a Nespresso.

Bottle of grappa being poured into green espresso cup that has coffee inside.

Add a splash of your preferred alcohol into the coffee and it’s ready to drink. 

Hand holds green espresso cup with coffee inside. Bottle of grappa and moka container on either side.

If you want to leave the mixing up to whom you are serving, serve the alcohol in another small glass or just put the bottle on the table. This way, they can mix the Italian digestif in with the espresso right before drinking.

Caffè Corretto FAQ

What will you get if you order a caffè corretto?

If you order a caffè corretto in Italy. you will get two small cups: one with a shot of espresso and one with a shot of an Italian digestif of your choice such as grappa, sambuca or brandy.

What is a caffe corretto in italy?

Caffè corretto in Italy is a spiked coffee beverage made with an Italian espresso and a splash of liquor such as grappa, sambuca or brandy.

When should I drink espresso corretto?

An espresso corretto is usually enjoyed after a large meal in Italy such as lunch or dinner. You will also find Italians ordering espresso corretto at any time of the day at the counter in bars throughout Italy.  

What is the Italian coffee drink after dinner?

The most popular coffee drink among Italians after dinner is a caffè or espresso, enjoyed either amaro (black) or with a spoonful of sugar and/or a drop of milk. Second to caffè is caffè corretto, a shot of espresso spiked with an Italian digestif.