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Caffè Corretto Recipe: A Zesty Italian Coffee Cocktail

The caffè corretto is a classic Italian drink that combines espresso with a splash of grappa. People often describe it as a cocktail, but it’s not limited to evenings, with just enough alcohol to add a flavor boost to the coffee. To learn how to make this espresso with a twist, read on for the simple caffè corretto recipe below.

Caffe corretto

What is a caffè corretto?

The caffè corretto is an Italian drink made by adding a small amount of grappa (or other alcohol) to a shot of espresso. The Italian word corretto means “corrected”, with the idea that you’ve corrected the coffee with the addition of alcohol. The combination of coffee and alcohol goes a long way back, but this particular drink is thought to have originated around the 1930s. At this time, coffee was scarce and expensive and often supplemented by chicory or orzo – the splash of grappa was vital for “correcting” the bitter flavor (1).

Grappa is the most popular addition, but sambuca and brandy are also very common.

When ordering, you would typically specify which one you want, asking for un caffè corretto alla grappa or un caffè corretto alla sambucca.

Your caffè correttois often served with the grappa already added. But, in some cafes, they may serve you with the alcohol in a separate shot glass, so you can add it to suit your taste. 

Caffè Corretto Recipe

If you know how to make an espresso, you know how to make a Caffe Corretto. Preparing this Italian coffee drink couldn’t be easier. 

What you need

  • 9 g espresso beans
  • 5 ml grappa
  • Coffee grinder
  • Espresso machine
  • Demitasse cup

At a Glance

Brew time:

5 minutes

Yield:

1 Cup

How To Make Caffè Corretto

Now, here’s our easy-to-follow guide on how to make a caffè corretto.

1. Grind the beans

Even though you’re adding alcohol, the taste of this drink relies on good espresso, so freshly ground espresso beans are a must. You’ll want a medium-fine grind.

2. Make the coffee

Pull your espresso as usual directly into the serving cup. 

3. Add the grappa

You should add the grappa directly before drinking to avoid the alcohol evaporating. If you’ve never had a Caffe Corretto before, start with just a few drops and add more to the taste. 

Tips for the best Caffe Corretto

The caffè corretto is just as simple as espresso with grappa, but a few traditional guidelines will help you get the best experience. 

  • The amount of alcohol: Alcohol is added entirely to taste (especially if you’re making it at home), but the general rule is that it shouldn’t be more than 5 ml. Coffee should still be the predominant taste. 
  • Alcohol temperature: Whatever tipple you choose, make sure it’s one at room temperature. Cold alcohol can disperse the crema on the espresso. 
  • Types of alcohol: Even within Italy, people use a wide range of alcohols, and it’s entirely up to your tastes. But liqueurs with fruit or citrus flavors are always avoided. Why not make your own coffee liqueur for an intense coffee flavor to add to your Caffe Corretto.

Other Italian coffee with alcohol

The Caffe Corretto is the most popular coffee cocktail in Italy. Still, depending on the region you might also encounter the calimero, an espresso topped with egg liqueur and whipped cream, or moretta fanese, an espresso with rum, brandy, Pernod, and lemon zest.

Outside of Italy, the combination of coffee and alcohol takes on a wide variety of forms. You’re probably familiar with the warming Irish coffee or the classic espresso martini recipe, but these drinks can get as extravagant as the flaming Spanish coffee.

FAQs

You can drink the Caffe Corretto at any time of day, though it’s not always socially acceptable in the morning if you plan to go to work. It’s most commonly used as a digestive after a meal, particularly after dinner if you plan to continue drinking into the night.

A Rexentin is a variation on the Caffe Corretto found in the Veneto region of Italy. Rather than serving the espresso and grappa as one drink, the espresso is served first on its own. The drinker is then provided with a small amount of grappa to rinse out the cup – the word rexentin meaning “rinse” in the local dialect.

A Caffe con Schiuma is an Italian drink consisting of espresso topped with a layer of coffee-flavored foam (schiuma being the Italian for “foam”). You make this foam by whipping together espresso and castor sugar as you do for Dalgona coffee or a Cuban cortadito.

  1. Parla, K. (2018, October 26). A Brief History of the Caffè Corretto. Punch. https://punchdrink.com/articles/brief-history-italian-caffe-corretto-espresso-coffee
Kashmir Brummel
Growing up in a coffee-free household, the discovery of the Moka pot as a teen was something of a revelation. I’ve now upgraded to the AeroPress for my daily brew, with a Hario V60 on hand for lazy weekend mornings.

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