Bicerin Coffee Recipe: Turin’s Iconic Beverage

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Bicerin is a delicious coffee and chocolate drink that hails from Turin, Italy.

This layered beverage combines rich espresso, velvety hot chocolate, and frothy milk, creating a treat that’s both visually appealing and satisfying to the palate.

The name “Bicerin” means “small glass” in the local dialect, reflecting its traditional serving style.

Historically, this drink has warmed the hearts of many famous figures, from Alexandre Dumas to Friedrich Nietzsche.

More than just a drink, Bicerin is a symbol of Turin’s vibrant coffee culture and a testament to the city’s culinary artistry.

How To Make Bicerin Coffee: At A Glance

  1. Prepare Hot Chocolate
  2. Brew the Espresso
  3. Froth the Milk
  4. Assemble the Drink
  5. Enjoy!

The Unique Layers of Bicerin


At the base of a Bicerin lies a robust shot of espresso.

This strong coffee layer provides a rich, bold flavor that is essential to the drink.

The espresso’s bitterness perfectly balances the sweetness of the chocolate and the creaminess of the milk.

Hot Chocolate

The middle layer is a luxurious hot chocolate.

Made with high-quality dark chocolate, this layer adds a deep, decadent sweetness.

The hot chocolate should be thick and smooth, creating a perfect contrast to the strong espresso below it.

Frothed Milk or Whipped Cream

Topping off the Bicerin is a layer of frothy milk or whipped cream.

This final layer adds a light, airy texture that complements the denser layers below.

It should be frothed or whipped to create a fluffy consistency that sits beautifully on top.

Importance of Layering

Visual Appeal

The distinct layers of a Bicerin are not just for taste; they also create a visually stunning drink.

The clear glass allows you to see each layer, making it as pleasing to the eye as it is to the palate.

The dark espresso, rich chocolate, and white froth create a beautiful contrast that enhances the drinking experience.

Flavor Profile

Layering the Bicerin ensures that each sip offers a complex blend of flavors.

As you drink, the layers mix gently on your palate, allowing you to enjoy the unique combination of bitter, sweet, and creamy notes.

This gradual blending creates a dynamic taste experience that evolves with each sip.

Ingredients and Equipment

Ingredients List

Dark Chocolate (60-70% Cocoa)

To achieve the rich, deep flavor essential to a Bicerin, use high-quality dark chocolate.

The cocoa content should be between 60-70% for the best balance of bitterness and sweetness.

Espresso Coffee

A strong espresso forms the base layer of the Bicerin.

Freshly brewed espresso is ideal, as it provides the necessary intensity to complement the other layers.

Heavy Whipping Cream

Heavy whipping cream is used to create the frothed milk layer.

It adds a creamy, smooth texture that contrasts nicely with the dark chocolate and espresso.

Whole Milk

Whole milk is used in the hot chocolate layer.

Its fat content helps create a rich, velvety texture when combined with the dark chocolate.

Cocoa Powder

Adding cocoa powder to the hot chocolate layer enhances the chocolate flavor, making it more robust and intense.

Optional Ingredients

  • Confectioners Sugar: For sweetening the whipped cream.
  • Hazelnut Extract: Adds a nutty flavor that complements the chocolate and coffee.
  • Cinnamon or Nutmeg: For a hint of spice that can add depth to the drink.

Special Equipment

Clear Stemmed Wine Glasses

Using clear stemmed wine glasses showcases the distinct layers of the Bicerin, enhancing its visual appeal.

Milk Frother

A milk frother is essential for creating the fluffy, frothed milk layer.

It ensures a light, airy texture that sits perfectly on top of the drink.

Espresso Machine or Moka Pot

An espresso machine or moka pot is necessary to brew the strong espresso required for the Bicerin.

Either tool can produce the rich, concentrated coffee needed for the base layer.


A small saucepan is used to melt the chocolate and mix it with the milk and cocoa powder, creating a smooth, thick hot chocolate layer.

Spoon (for layering)

A spoon is used to carefully layer the hot chocolate and espresso, preventing them from mixing prematurely.

This technique helps maintain the distinct layers that are characteristic of a Bicerin.

Step-by-Step Recipe

Step 1: Preparation of Hot Chocolate

Melt Chocolate with Milk and Cream

Begin by pouring 2 ounces of heavy whipping cream and ½ to 1 ounce of milk into a small saucepan.

Add 2 ounces of good quality dark chocolate (60-70%) and heat over low heat.

Stir continuously until the chocolate is completely melted and the mixture is smooth.

Add Cocoa Powder and Whisk

Add 1 teaspoon of good quality dark cocoa powder to the melted chocolate mixture.

Whisk until the cocoa powder is fully incorporated and the mixture is thick and homogeneous.

Remove from heat and keep the hot chocolate covered to retain warmth.

Step 2: Brewing the Espresso

Prepare 2 ounces of espresso using an espresso machine or moka pot.

For the best results, use freshly ground coffee beans and brew the espresso right after preparing the hot chocolate to ensure it is hot and fresh.

Step 3: Frothing the Milk

Use a milk frother to froth the remaining milk (approximately ½ to 1 ounce).

If you don’t have a milk frother, you can also use a whisk.

Heat the milk until it is hot but not boiling, then whisk vigorously until it becomes frothy.

The goal is to achieve a thick, airy froth that will sit on top of the drink.

Step 4: Assembling the Drink

Now for the final and most fun step:

  1. Pour the Espresso: Start by pouring the hot espresso into a 10 to 12-ounce clear stemmed wine glass.
  2. Add the Hot Chocolate: Using the back of a spoon to slow the pour, carefully layer the hot chocolate over the espresso. Direct the spoon towards the side of the glass to avoid splashing and mixing the layers.
  3. Top with Frothed Milk: Finally, add the frothed milk on top, filling about a third of the glass. Again, use the back of a spoon to gently layer the milk without mixing it into the lower layers.

Importance of Not Stirring Before Drinking

The key to enjoying Bicerin is to allow the layers to mix naturally as you sip.

Stirring the drink would blend the distinct layers, losing the unique experience of tasting each component separately.

Tips for the Perfect Bicerin

Quality of Ingredients

The secret to a perfect Bicerin lies in the quality of its ingredients.

As mentioned earlier, choose dark chocolate with 60-70% cocoa content for a rich, smooth flavor.

Avoid using lower-quality chocolate as it can affect the taste and texture.

For the espresso, use freshly ground coffee beans.

Freshly brewed espresso provides a robust, aromatic base that complements the chocolate and milk.

Layering Techniques

To achieve perfect layers, use the back of a spoon while pouring.

Start with the hot espresso at the bottom.

Next, pour the hot chocolate over the back of the spoon, directing it towards the side of the glass.

This technique prevents the chocolate from mixing with the espresso.

Finally, add the frothed milk on top using the same method.

Pouring over the back of a spoon helps the milk sit gently on the chocolate layer, maintaining the visual appeal and distinct flavors of each component.

Variations and Twists

Vegan and Dairy-Free Options

For those following a vegan or dairy-free diet, Bicerin can be adapted without compromising on taste.

Instead of using heavy whipping cream and whole milk, opt for plant-based alternatives.

Almond milk offers a light, slightly nutty flavor, while coconut milk provides a richer, creamier texture.

Oat milk is another great choice due to its neutral taste and creamy consistency.

Use these substitutes in the same quantities as the dairy ingredients.

Ensure the chocolate used is dairy-free to maintain the vegan quality of the drink.

Flavor Variations

Adding Spices (Cinnamon, Nutmeg)

Spice up your Bicerin by incorporating warm, aromatic spices.

A dash of cinnamon or a pinch of nutmeg can elevate the flavor profile, adding a cozy, comforting element to the drink.

These spices blend well with both the chocolate and coffee layers, providing a delightful twist without overpowering the original flavors.

Different Types of Chocolate (White Chocolate, Milk Chocolate)

While traditional Bicerin uses dark chocolate, experimenting with other types can be a fun way to personalize your drink.

White chocolate creates a sweeter, creamier version, perfect for those who prefer a milder chocolate taste.

Milk chocolate offers a middle ground, retaining some of the richness of dark chocolate but with a smoother, sweeter finish.

Adjust the sweetness to your taste when using these alternatives.

Alcoholic Twists

For an adult twist on the classic Bicerin, consider adding a splash of your favorite liqueur.

Amaretto, with its almond flavor, complements the chocolate and coffee beautifully, adding a subtle nutty sweetness.

Baileys Irish Cream offers a creamy, boozy kick that pairs perfectly with the drink’s rich layers.

Add about one ounce of liqueur to the espresso layer before assembling the drink for a delightful, indulgent variation.

Serving Suggestions

Traditional Accompaniments

Torcelli Biscotti

Torcelli biscotti, a traditional Italian treat, pairs wonderfully with Bicerin.

These twisted cookies are known for their crunchy texture and subtle sweetness, which complement the rich layers of the drink.

Serve them on the side to dip into the Bicerin for an authentic Italian experience.

Piemontese Hazelnut Chocolate Cake

Another delightful accompaniment is the Piemontese hazelnut chocolate cake.

This dense, moist cake, rich with the flavors of hazelnut and chocolate, enhances the nutty and chocolaty notes of the Bicerin.

A small slice alongside your drink adds an indulgent touch to your coffee experience.

Presentation Tips

Using Clear Glasses for Visual Appeal

As we briefly touched on earlier, presentation is key to enjoying Bicerin.

Use clear glasses, preferably stemmed wine glasses, to showcase the beautiful layers of the drink.

The contrast between the dark espresso, the creamy hot chocolate, and the frothy milk creates a stunning visual effect that enhances the overall experience.

Serving Immediately for Optimal Texture and Flavor

To enjoy Bicerin at its best, serve it immediately after preparation.

The freshly brewed espresso, warm chocolate, and frothy milk blend perfectly when served hot.

Drinking it right away ensures that the layers remain distinct and the flavors are at their peak.

Remember, the charm of Bicerin lies in savoring the individual layers without stirring, so immediate serving preserves this unique characteristic.

The Cultural Impact of Bicerin

Historical Significance

Bicerin’s rich history dates back to the 18th century in Turin, Italy.

It became a favorite among notable figures, including Alexandre Dumas and Friedrich Nietzsche.

Dumas praised Bicerin in his writings, describing it as a delight worth experiencing.

Nietzsche, who spent time in Turin, was also known to enjoy this local specialty, frequenting cafes that served Bicerin.

These historical endorsements elevated Bicerin’s status, embedding it deeply in Turin’s cultural fabric.

Modern Influence

In contemporary coffee culture, Bicerin has inspired various adaptations.

Many modern cafes worldwide have embraced this traditional drink, adding their unique twists while preserving its essence.

The layered presentation and rich, indulgent flavors have made Bicerin a beloved choice among coffee enthusiasts.

It stands out in the modern coffee scene as a testament to Turin’s lasting influence on coffee culture.

Bicerin in Pop Culture and Literature

Bicerin’s charm extends beyond the cafes of Turin into popular culture and literature.

It has been mentioned in various literary works, showcasing its enduring appeal.

The drink symbolizes Turin’s cultural heritage, often referenced to evoke a sense of elegance and tradition.

Its portrayal in films and books contributes to its mystique, drawing more people to experience this iconic beverage.


Bicerin is a delightful and historical drink that has captured the hearts of many for centuries.

Its unique layers of espresso, hot chocolate, and frothed milk create a rich and indulgent experience.

Authenticity and quality are key to making the perfect Bicerin, so use the best ingredients you can find.

We encourage you to try this recipe at home and enjoy a taste of Turin’s coffee culture.

Share your Bicerin creations and any variations you come up with.

We’d love to hear about your experiences and see your photos!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Can Bicerin be made with regular coffee?

Yes, Bicerin can be made with regular coffee if you don’t have espresso.

However, the taste will be slightly different.

Espresso has a stronger and more concentrated flavor that is essential to the traditional Bicerin experience.

If you use regular coffee, try to brew it as strong as possible to get a richer taste.

How can I make a non-dairy version?

Making a non-dairy version of Bicerin is simple.

Substitute the whole milk and heavy whipping cream with non-dairy alternatives such as almond milk, coconut milk, or oat milk.

Ensure the chocolate you use is also dairy-free.

The frothing process might be slightly different, but you can still achieve a creamy texture with these substitutes.

What are some common mistakes to avoid?

  1. Not layering correctly: To get the perfect layers, pour each component carefully over the back of a spoon.
  2. Using low-quality ingredients: The quality of chocolate and coffee significantly impacts the final flavor.
  3. Overheating the milk: This can cause the milk to lose its sweetness and become too frothy.
  4. Stirring before drinking: Bicerin should be enjoyed as a layered drink, so avoid stirring it to experience the distinct flavors.

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Jacob Harris

Jacob is a coffee enthusiast who turned his passion into a career. As the owner and editor of Karma Coffee Cafe, he shares his extensive knowledge and recommendations, captivating fellow coffee lovers.

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