Iced Coffee in Italy

coffee granita in front of the pantheon in Rome

As the summer temperatures hover in the 90s in Rome, the idea of a hot coffee (no matter how tiny those espressi may be) starts to feel less and less appealing. Despite the weather, it is typically hard to find large cups of iced coffee, with the cubes piled high. There are, however, local varieties of cold coffee if you want a refreshing drink during the hottest months of the year. Keep in mind that like most things, iced coffee in Italy is seasonal! You can probably only find it from late May to early September.

Here are seven kinds of iced coffee to try the next time you are in Italy during the summer:

Caffè Freddo

This is homemade at most coffee bars by pour several shots of espresso into a glass bottle. While the coffee is still hot, sugar is added so that it dissolves properly. The bottle is then stored in the fridge so it will be ready for the next day. If you don’t take sugar in your coffee, there is usually a version ‘senza zucchero’ as well. If you order a caffè freddo, it will be a shot of espresso poured out of this bottle of pre-made cold coffee.

Caffè in ghiaccio 

This is simply coffee over ice. In this case, a hot shot of espresso is added to a small glass with several cubes of ice. Nothing like a venti from Starbucks, but a small and refreshing cold coffee. 

Caffè Leccesse

Caffè Leccesse comes from the town of Lecce in Puglia. It is similar to caffè in ghiaccio in the sense that it is a fresh shot of hot espresso poured into a cup of ice. The big difference is that caffè leccesse always has sweetened almond syrup added to the glass before the coffee. This is one of my favorite Italian takes on iced coffee. No sugar needed! It will be sweet already.

iced coffee in puglia

Cold Brew

Cold brew is not common in Italy, but if you can find it if you are at a specialty coffee bar like Tram Depot or Faro in Rome. This is coffee that is brewed in cold water, rather than hot. The only place I know that does nitro cold brew in Rome is near the Vatican at Pergamino.


Coffee lovers should try a shakerato at least once in their life, if only for the spectacle of it. This is the original Italian iced coffee and it requires a bit of effort on the barista’s part. First, a shot of hot espresso and sugar (if desired) is added into a cocktail shaker. Add ice and shake vigorously. The frothy cold coffee is then typically served in a martini glass and sipped deliciously slowly. A true summer treat!

Granita di caffe 

Granita is another summer treat that can be made in a variety of flavors. Granita di caffè is coffee that has been pour into a shallow dish and frozen. The frozen coffee is scraped into a kind of shaved ice and served in a small glass with a spoon. Panna (whipped cream) is optional but recommended! You can find an excellent version at Tazza d’oro in Rome.

coffee granita in front of the pantheon in Rome

Crema di caffe

This is usually a dessert but many coffee bars have a slushy type machine churning away during summer. This crema di caffé is served with a spoon. It tends to be very sweet and not exactly an all natural choice, but a tasty sorbet alternative if you want a coffee kick. 

Any other favorite iced coffees in Italy? Here are my favorite coffee bars in Rome if you want to try some.

7 thoughts on “Iced Coffee in Italy

  1. Robert Klein says:

    What a great article. A great love of mine was Granita di Caffè. I thought it died because it became too costly and too time consuming to make. Thank you so much for your advice to go to TASSA D’ORO. Maybe since Ferragosto is coming you can give some advice where to eat PORCHETTA alla ROMANA. Many Thanks, Robert Klein

  2. Robert T. Ferguson Jr says:

    Hey there.
    I’m going to Rome in May 2023, and plan on drinking the coffee, but I see that all the coffee’s have sugar in it, Im a diabetic and prefer sugar free coffee, or with splenda as a sugar substitute, Can I get splenda in Italy or do I have to carry my own from the US.

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