Bicerin, Turin’s Coffee and Hot Chocolate Drink

Bicerin recipe, one of Italy’s best kept secrets.
Bicerin (Turin's Coffee & Hot Chocolate Drink)
Bicerin Coffee and Chocolate Drink Turin

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

What is Bicerin?

Bicerin is one of the most heavenly drinks you will ever have the pleasure of sipping! It warms, it wakes and it lulls, all in equal measure.

And Turin (or Torino), in Italy, is home to Bicerin, one of Italy’s best kept secrets. Unless you’ve been to Turin, chances are, you’ve never had, or perhaps, never even heard of, Bicerin, a hot, luscious drink of espresso, chocolate and milk or cream.

While you’ll find it served everywhere in Turin, Bicerin has actually got a home! It is said to have been invented in the late 18th century at Caffe al Bicerin, a small and cosy establishment at the Piazza della Consolata.

And this is how Bicerin is said to have come about – there were three variations of coffee served to customers in the early days: coffee with milk, coffee with chocolate and a little bit of everything. The last drink, a little coffee, chocolate and milk, ended up being the most popular, and

il resto, è storia! (The rest is history!)

Having said that, it apparently started life being called il bavareisa. Somewhere along the line, its name got changed to Bicerin to reflect the little glass it’s served in.

Caffe al Bicerin has seen many famous faces walk through its historic doors; Alexandre Dumas and Puccini are just two of its more distinguished clientele. I’m sure, however, they didn’t pay the equivalent of €7 – €8 that you’ll have to cough up for a glass of Bicerin these days, a rather steep price, but I suppose you’re paying not just for the coffee, but also the experience.

Bicerin Pronunciation

The word “bicerin” means small glass, in Piedmontese.

Bicerin – pronounced Bi – Chay – Reen

Piedmontese – the language spoken by many locals in Piedmont, a region in north west Italy. Turin is its capital.

The picture below shows you a shot glass of Bicerin, something I love serving up to my clients, as a surprise. Isn’t it cute?

Bicerin Coffee and Chocolate Drink Turin

How to Make Bicerin at Home

There are 3 parts to the recipe:

  • Espresso
  • Homemade Hot Chocolate (Cioccolata Calda)
  • Fresh milk or cream

And this is what we’ll be doing:

  • brew the coffee
  • make the hot chocolate
  • froth the milk or whip the cream
  • put it all together – Bicerin is always served in a glass

Bicerin is served in many different ways in Turin, but always in a glass. One of the most popular methods of serving is in layers of hot chocolate at the bottom, coffee layer, then finally, the milk or cream float.

To achieve Bicerin layers, all you do is pour the hot chocolate over the back of a spoon. This is so as not to disrupt and muddy the coffee. The denser hot chocolate will sink to the bottom of the glass, creating 2 layers.

The 3 Parts

The Coffee

The coffee is strong and dark, fresh espresso is always best, whether you make it using a coffee machine, in a moka pot or in a cafetière.

Bicerin isn’t for the faint hearted, the coffee and chocolate are equally present in it. So make your coffee strong.

Cioccolata Calda (Hot Chocolate)

The hot chocolate, likewise, wants to be strong and well made. No insipid parts when making bicerin.

I recently posted a recipe for Cioccolata Calda, Italian Hot Chocolate (image below), and that is what I always use to make Bicerin.

It’s a very easy recipe, using a combination of dark chocolate, cocoa powder, a little sugar, milk and cornflour (corn starch) to thicken. Everything is heated up in a saucepan and poured into a glass to enjoy on its own.

I make both drinks so often that it’s practically second nature to me, the chocolate takes just 5 minutes while the coffee is brewing, then it’s less than a minute of bringing it all together. So it’s really very doable.

Taste your hot chocolate and add more sugar if you want it sweeter.

Or you could just use whatever regular hot chocolate you make, but it wants to be strong and thick.

The Dairy

And you also want fresh, frothy milk or cream, my preference is for double or heavy cream, lightly whipped.

Can you use semi skimmed milk for bicerin? Absolutely!

If you are using cream and want it whipped, then it has to be heavy cream (aka whipping cream, double cream).

Th combination of hot chocolate and coffee can be a little too strong and bitter for some, so you can combat this by adding a little sugar to your dairy.

Cioccolata Calda, Italian Hot Chocolate
Cioccolata Calda

Layered Bicerin

In Turin, you get all sorts of presentations. In my experience, more often than not, the hot chocolate is just poured over the coffee and gets mixed up into one very dark, homogenous mix, before being topped with cream or frothy milk.

But I rather like the layered look. To create layers, just pour the hot chocolate over the back of a spoon, much like in the B52 cocktail, the Baileys cocktail. You can do that or not, that’s completely up to you.

So there you have it, forget the mocha, the latte, the cappuccino, because now you know Bicerin!

Let’s get our aprons on!

If you like the recipe, don’t forget to leave me a comment and that all important, 5-star rating! Thank you!

And if you make the recipe, share it on any platform and tag me @azlinbloor, and hashtag it #linsfood.

Lin xx

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Bicerin (Turin's Coffee & Hot Chocolate Drink)

Bicerin, Turin’s Coffee and Chocolate Hot Drink

Bicerin recipe, one of Italy’s best kept secrets.
4.97 from 64 votes
Print Pin Add to Collection
Course: Drinks
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: chocolate, drinks
Prep Time: 2 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes
Servings: 2
Calories: 304kcal
Author: Azlin Bloor

Equipment

Ingredients

  • 4 shots of espresso
  • 250 ml cioccolata calda click for recipe
  • 125 ml fresh cream lightly whipped, sweetened or not, up to you
  • 1 tsp sugar (optional, I don't use it) to sweeten the milk or cream

Instructions

  • Brew your espresso, then divide between 2 glasses.
  • Top with the hot chocolate, divided equally.
    If you would like a layered drink, pour your hot chocolate off the back of a spoon. Hold a teaspoon upside down, practically touching the coffee. Then slowly, pour the hot chocolate over it. The denser chocolate will settle at the bottom of the glass.
  • Froth your milk (or whip the cream to soft peak stage) and gently pour over the top.
    If you want to sweeten your milk or cream slightly, add 1 tsp sugar before frothing/whipping.

Nutrition

Calories: 304kcal | Carbohydrates: 20g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 24g | Saturated Fat: 15g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 7g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 86mg | Sodium: 142mg | Potassium: 264mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 14g | Vitamin A: 920IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 73mg | Iron: 1mg
Did you make this recipe?Mention @azlinbloor and tag #linsfood!
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25 thoughts on “Bicerin, Turin’s Coffee and Hot Chocolate Drink”

  1. 5 stars
    Thank you so much for this, Lin. Just saw it on Insta and had to check it out! Must see if I can find the Stanley Tucci series too!

  2. 5 stars
    Stanly Tucci made me come here. Turin and this drink were featured on episode 2 season 2 of “Searching For Italy”. It’s his fault if I get fat drinking these every day!

  3. This sounds absolutely delicious. I just watched a programme on the Piemontese cuisine and – of course – Bicerin was included. In a café in Turin they poured the very thick, rich chocolate into the glass first, then the coffee, and then on top, the frothy milk. In your recipe the espresso comes first, followed by the chocolate. My understanding of physics tells me that I would do it the other way round, like the man in the Turin café, as the chocolate is denser and thus heavier than the coffee. That way, the barista managed to produce a wonderfully layered tri-colour drink. What do you think?

    1. Hi Ollie, that makes perfect sense! I’ve been to Turin so many times, and have had Bicerin served in so many different ways, layered and all stirred in. I can only think that I’m doing it this way because MAYBE that’s how I saw it being done first, who knows! But as you can see, even made this way, the denser chocolate sinks to the bottom.

  4. Ahhhh! I’ve never heard of this. It looks delicious. I’m a huge coffee lover, and I need to try this recipe. Thank you!

  5. I have never heard of this before but it sounds delicious! We love coffee and trying new ways to enjoy it.

  6. Sondra Barker

    Chocolate coffee is always delicious! These pictures had me craving coffee so bad. This was a fantastic read.

  7. Erin Maycroft

    Yummmm!! That sounds delicious. Chocolate is just about the only way I’ll drink coffee 🙂

  8. Bicerin looks divine. I’m to be in Turin this summer, I will have to hunt it down, thanks for the introduction!

  9. I love coffe and that Bicerin seems so yummy and delicious! I’ll try to make it at home thanks to your recipe for sure!

  10. Thats super delicious.. and i am in love with the first pic..looks like a pic from a food magazine..amazing!!

  11. Hey cara, it’s me again, the Italian living in London! I’ve been waiting for your Bicerin post, I love it! Showed it to my mum in Torino and she said to tell you “Brava”!

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