This Caffè Leccese Recipe Is A Treasure From Puglia

If you are planning a visit to Bari, Italy you should check out their delicious Caffè Leccese coffee drink that you can also make at home with this recipe.

Caffè Leccese recipe - Espresso
Start With Espresso

Is A Caffè Leccese Recipe Iced Coffee With Almond Milk?

In a traditional Caffè Leccese recipe, there is no almond milk added at all, so if you are seeing recipes that are recommending using almond milk, you should go in another direction. In fact, there isn’t any milk added at all and all you have is espresso coffee and an almond syrup.

What Does Caffè Leccese Mean?

This is quite simple, Caffè Leccese literally translates to coffee from Lecce. If this still isn’t enough information, please allow me to expand my answer. Lecce is a city in southern Italy and it is the Capital of the province of Lecce. The cold coffee drink known as Caffè Leccese was invented by Antonio Quarta in Lecce.

Caffè Leccese recipe - orgeat
Add The Orgeat

What Is In Caffè Leccese?

The coffee drink known as Caffè Leccese is a local Puglia delicacy that involves an espresso coffee and an almond syrup. Many recipes I’ve seen online describe it as having sweet almond milk, but this is not correct. The very sweet almond syrup is added to espresso and served over ice, which results in a thicker, sweeter drink that is perfect on a hot day. Typically, the sweet almond syrup is called Orgeat and you can find this at typical bars around Italy, not just in Puglia.

What Is Orgeat In A Caffè Leccese Recipe?

Orgeat syrup is a sweet syrup made from almonds and sugar that is one of the two ingredients in this traditional Caffè Leccese recipe. In addition to being added to coffee, Orgeat syrup is an important ingredient in cocktails line a Mai Tai and other Tiki-style drinks.

Caffè Leccese recipe - Combine With Ice
Combine In Glass With Ice

How Do Italians Make Coffee At Home?

For many years, the most popular way to make stove-top espresso at home was to use the very popular Moka that was invented by Bialetti. Every home in Italy had one, and most still do, but more people are adopting the single serve coffee makers like a Nespresso, or one of the Keurig knock-offs. For this recipe, I would recommend using a stove-top espresso maker, like a Moka.

What Is Iced Coffee Called In Italy?

Iced coffee in Italy is known as caffè freddo, and in addition to this Caffè Leccese recipe, you can also get a Shakerato, which is espresso, ice and optionally sugar shaken up to generate a foam. There is also the less popular Soffiato coffee, which means blown, where air is added with the steam from the espresso machine making a nice emulsion on top. Lastly, don’t forget about how to make Affogato at home.

Who Invented The Caffè Leccese Recipe?

This recipe is known as Caffè Leccese or Caffè alla Salentina and one theory is that it was invented by Antonio Quarta, who owned the local Quarta Caffè roasting company to beat the Puglian heat in the summer. The older, and less certain version is that iced coffee came to Italy from the Iberian Peninsula back in the 15th century. Take your pick!

Caffè Leccese recipe - Great Bar In Bari
Great Bar In Bari

Where Can I Drink A Good Caffè Leccese?

I prefer my espresso bitter and angry, which means I don’t usually add sugar, but I have not had a more refreshing drink than the Caffè Leccese that I enjoyed at Salvatore Petriella’s Caffè and Bistrot found at: Via Salvatore Cognetti, 14. There are other bars around Bari and Puglia that will serve a great caffè Leccese, but I would start here if you are in town.

The Caffè Leccese Recipe

This is a common Caffè Leccese recipe that is served in bars around Puglia. When you Order one, you will be served two separate cups, one with an espresso and the other larger glass will have some ice cubes and the Orgeat almond syrup. It is up to you to combine them.


  • 1 hot and freshly brewed espresso in a espresso cup (tazzina)
  • 3 tablespoons of Orgeat (almond milk syrup) in a larger glass.
  • A few (2-3) ice cubes in the larger glass.


  • Make the espresso using a Moka pot in the typical manner and serve it in an espresso cup.
  • Fill a larger glass with the Orgeat and add the ice cubes.
  • Add the espresso to the glass of ice and Orgeat and mix well.
  • Serve and enjoy.
Caffè Leccese recipe - Sweets
Have Some Sweets

More Italian Coffee Culture Experiences

If you enjoyed this Caffè Leccese recipe and you are interested in learning more about the ways that Italian coffee is enjoyed and the culture that embraces it, you should check out some other posts:


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