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The Art of Drinking Coffee in Naples Cafes

The Art of Drinking Coffee in Naples Italy

In Italy, Videos, Wine and Beverage by Daryl & Mindi Hirsch23 Comments

The Naples coffee culture is unique compared to all the other cities that we have visited in the world. See what it’s like to drink coffee in Naples Italy at cafes throughout the city and check out our insider tips for drinking coffee in Italy.

The Art of Drinking Coffee in Naples Cafes

We arrived in Naples as Italian coffee novices. Sure, we’d been to Italy before including visits to Rome, Florence, Matera and even Bologna. But we’d previously traveled as typical tourists, sprinting our way through cities, staying just long enough to learn how to say hello and thank you in the native language. This visit was different. We lived like locals for a month in a Naples Airbnb apartment. We had a stove top and a Moka pot in our Centro Storico flat near a number of coffee bars. Needless to say, drinking coffee was one of our favorite things to do in Naples Italy.

Pro Tip: Buy a moka pot to make fresh coffee at home. Alfonso Bialetti invented the Moka pot in 1933, but it remains the easiest and cheapest way to brew up Naples style coffee.

Naples Cafes – Stuck in the 1950s

Smiling Barista - The Art of Drinking Coffee in Naples Cafes

Walking into a Naples cafe is like walking back in time. Baristas make espressos pulling manual levers the old fashioned way and with a smile.

We arrived with a plan to eat the best Naples pizza all month. Although our second priority was coffee, we didn’t have a specific coffee plan. We assumed that we would find some great third wave coffee shops where we could work, use some free wi-fi and drink hand-crafted single-origin coffee drinks – just like we do in every other city in the world. We soon realized that we needed a new plan.

At least from the perspective of coffee, Naples is stuck in the 1950s. Many baristas wear army like hats, pulling shots of espresso to order from espresso machines with giant baton-like levers. The electronic espresso machine, a common fixture throughout the coffee world, is rare, if nonexistent in Napoli. Customers quickly down their drinks while standing at long bars. Though free Wi-Fi is common, there are rarely people sitting with laptops. And forget about choosing the coffee’s origin or roaster since, in a strange Neapolitan ‘coincidence’ –  every cafe we visited used the same roasting company’s espresso beans.

Cappuccino - The Art of Drinking Coffee at Naples Cafes

We loved the coffee in Naples, and apparently the coffee loved us back.

By the end of our month in Naples, we were coffee drinking pros with our favorite cafes and baristas. For better or worse, we couldn’t get enough of the Naples cafe culture with those little cups of bitter yet rich espresso simply referred to as caffè (coffee in Italian). Sometimes we stayed for a second cup of coffee. We even spent a full day drinking Neapolitan coffee to prove our Naples coffee love in a YouTube video.

Naples Coffee Video

Watch our Naples coffee crawl video for a sneak peek inside ten different Naples cafes. Yes, we drank ten espressos (and ate some tasty treats) in one highly caffeinated day. And, yes, we were up all night.

As an extra bonus, we eat in the video too. Since it’s Naples, we stop for pastries at Sfogliatella Mary, President Bill Clinton’s favorite fried pizza at Dal Presidente and amorino (cherry) gelato at Fantasia Gelati.  Yum!

Subscribe to our YouTube channel for more meals and conversation with the 2foodtrippers.

Naples Coffee Culture

Shakerato - The Art of Drinking Coffee in Naples Cafes

The Naples coffee culture is for real. This Shakerato at Caffe Mexico was a special afternoon treat.

Though we’re normally coffee connoisseurs (code word for snobs) who gravitate to third wave coffee shops like those we frequented in Budapest, Bucharest Seattle and Cape Town, we kind of love the classic Napoli coffee culture. Just like we ate pizza every day (when we weren’t eating pasta), we also drank at least one cup of kick-ass coffee daily, and sometimes more. And why not? A cup of authentic coffee in Naples rarely costs over a Euro. In fact, most Naples cafes only charge 90 cents for a perfectly brewed cup of coffee. Maybe this is why locals drink three to four cups every single day.

Pro Tip: If you’re paying more than a Euro for a cup of coffee in Naples, you’re probably in a tourist trap. Unless that’s your thing, just walk around the corner to a different cafe for a more authentic experience.

It’s a unique experience to drink coffee in Naples. Most cafes don’t have seats but instead serve coffee to patrons who stand at the bar – hence the name coffee bar. The preferred coffee style is espresso, and locals tend to load their small cups of espresso with a copious amount of sugar. Naples cafes are busy day and night, filled with customers who are in and out in mere minutes. And why not? The coffee in Naples is tasty, affordable and excellently crafted.

If you order a special drink like a cappuccino in Naples, you’re in for a special treat since most baristas know how to steam milk to the ideal consistency of foam and liquid. We began many of our days with these wonderful, milky drinks which are generally served ‘wet’, meaning that the steam milk is poured directly over the espresso.

Interestingly, every Napoli cafe seems to use beans from the same coffee roaster – Passalacqua. Is it because this third generation roasting company makes the best coffee in Naples Italy or is there another reason? We had our personal opinion since this is Naples after all. Whatever the reason, we liked the robust flavor profile of the Passalacqua beans enough to buy bags of their Napoli coffee beans to brew back at our apartment. We’ll let you decide if Passalacqua is the best Italian coffee or not.

What to Drink in a Naples Cafe

Coffee Cup in Naples Italy - The Art of Drinking Coffee in Naples Cafes

Coffee in Naples may cost under a Euro, but the quality is top notch. Just look at the crema on this caffè.

As we mentioned above, Italians tend to like their coffee strong and sweet, or at least that’s the case in Naples. We often watched big, burly men add several spoonfuls of sugar into their tiny cups of coffee. In Naples cafes, most people drink their coffee con zucchero (with sugar). Since, like many Americans, we prefer our coffee without sugar, we ordered ours senza zucchero (without sugar).

Though espresso is the standard Italian coffee offering, Naples coffee bars serve a range of drinks. These are our favorites coffee drinks in Naples:


Baristas serve single shots of espresso all day long and into the night. Rich and creamy, these little cups go down like liquid gold. The flavor of a good caffè should have the correct balance of flavor and acidity.


Cappuccinos are our go-to morning drink in Naples. We love to drink these cups of espresso topped with foamed milk, especially when the baristas add coffee art to the foam.


A shakerato is proof that the sum of the parts can be better than the parts themselves. Shaken not stirred, a shakerato has the simple ingredients of espresso, ice and sugar. Sometimes, if you’re lucky, the shakerato can also include chocolate.

Caffè Americano

When we made coffee at home with our Moka pot, we drank Americanos. Is it because we’re American or is it because we like adding hot water to our homemade espresso? Maybe it’s both.

Caffè Corretto

If you like your coffee with an extra zing, then the corretto is the drink for you. A correto is an espresso that has been ‘corrected’ with a shot of grappa or another type of liquor.

Pro Tip: Contrary to popular wisdom, you CAN order a cappuccino after 10 am at an Italian cafe in Naples. Though the baristas will make you a cappuccino at any time of day, Neapolitans tend to drink these milky drinks in the morning only. Be warned that you may get a funny look after noon.

Check Naples Hotel Rates

How To Drink Coffee in Italy (especially Naples)

Coffee for Two - The Art of Drinking Coffee in Naples Cafes

Drinking Coffee for Two in Naples Italy

Despite rumors about the grittiness of Naples and its people, you won’t be killed if you order your coffee incorrectly when you visit Naples. Contrary to popular belief, the locals don’t bite! That being said, here is our recommended way for ordering coffee in Italy without getting the dreaded eye roll:

  1. Order your coffee and pay at the register. If you want a typical espresso in Napoli, just say “uno caffè per favore.”
  2. Take the receipt to the barista at the bar. The barista will likely give you a cup of water right away at no additional charge.
  3. Drink the glass of water, preferably sparkling, to cleanse your palate.
  4. Add sugar to taste once the coffee arrives.
  5. Drink the coffee at the bar. If you ordered food (see below), eat the food at the bar too.
  6. Thank the barista (Grazie!) and leave.

These instructions apply to the thousands of typical cafes in Naples. The city also has more formal cafes where you can sit while you drink your coffee. Note that coffee prices are often higher at sit-down cafes.

Where to Drink Coffee in Naples

Mexico Barista - The Art of Drinking Coffee in Naples Cafes

Mexico is our favorite coffee bar in Naples. Here, our favorite uniformed barista shakes up two shakeratos for us.

As many pizza shops as there are in Naples, there are even more coffee shops. Although the best coffee shop in Napoli is often the closest coffee shop, sometimes a better coffee experience is in order. For consistently good coffee with a friendly atmosphere,  we recommend Caffè Mexico. Though a local chain, Mexico never disappointed us. Although fancier Naples cafes like Gran Caffè Gambrinus are popular with tourists, Mexico is our favorite Naples coffee shop.

Caffè Mexico has numerous locations all over Naples. Our go-to Mexico was located at Corso Umberto I, 30,80138 Napoli, Italy.
Gran Caffè Gambrinus is located at Via Ch.iaia, 1/2, 80132 Napoli, Italy.

What to Eat in a Naples Cafe

Sfogliatellas - The Art of Drinking Coffee in Naples Cafes

There are so many sfogliatellas for sale in Naples. Their shattering crunchy outsides with ‘just sweet enough’ ricotta fillings all taste divine.

Sometimes a hand-pulled cup of Napoli espresso is not enough. For those times, the best cafes in Naples have tempting options including some of the tastiest pastries in all of Italy.

These are our favorites:


Santa Rosa Soogliatella from Sfogliatella Mary at Galleria Umberto - The Art of Drinking Coffee in Naples Cafes

We ate this Santa Rosa sfogliatella from Sfogliatella Mary at the Galleria Umberto in Naples. In our opinion, it’s the best in town.

Our favorite pastry in Naples is the sfogliatella, a flaky pastry infused with a ricotta mixture that includes semolina, sugar, cinnamon, egg and fruit. Typical varieties are Riccia and Frolla, though our personal favorite is the Santa Rosa which adds cherries to the mix. Eat a sfogliatella at Sfogliatella Mary for the ultimate sfogliatella experience, or better yet try a few to find your personal favorite.

Sfogliatella Mary is located at Galleria Umberto I, 66, 80132 Napoli, Italy.

Rum Baba

Rum Baba - The Art of Drinking Coffee in Naples Cafes

This display of Rum Babas at Caffeteria Ippolito looks fairly innocuous. However, these innocent looking pastries pack a delicious punch.

Before Italy became an independent state, French rulers like Charles VIII, Louis XII and later Napoleon Bonaparte’s brother Joseph held periodic provenance over Naples for the last half a millennia. Maybe that’s how French pastries like the rum baba (baba au rhum in French) gained their popularity. You can find rum babas all over the Centro Storico, and the large dome topped, cup-like pastry carries a serious alcoholic punch. Other than drinking a caffè corretto, eating a rum baba may be the best way to counterbalance the bitter strength of an afternoon caffè.

Caffeteria Ippolito is located at Via dei Tribunali, 329, 80138 Napoli, Italy.


Pistachio Cornetto - The Art of Drinking Coffee in Naples Cafes

Pistachio Cornetto at Jamme Cafè in Naples Italy

Practically a twin to the French croissant, the Italian cornetto is a horn-shaped pastry that pairs well with coffee. Though just fine when served plain, the cornetto is even better when filled with fruit or topped with pistachio like the one we shared at Jamme Cafè.

Jamme Café is located at Corso Umberto I, 188,80138 Napoli, Italy.

Hungry for more? Check out our Naples Pizza Guide with all the best pizzerias in the city.

Research Naples Hotels

Have we convinced you to visit Naples and drink all the coffee? Click here to research the best rates for hotels in Naples Italy.

Book a Tour

Click here to find an awesome Naples tour or try one of these tours:

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  1. Incredible post. In anything ever happens to Naples, you two have documented it so well that it’s culture can live on. And I have an awkward crush on you two in a totally non-sexual way. Sfogliatella is amazing and the fact that you are sharing it specifically is amazeballs.

  2. Thanks for this great article and video. It makes we want to go.
    As coffee lover I think Naples would be a paradise for me.

    1. Author

      If you like authentic, old school coffee – then you must visit Naples.

  3. Hi Guys,

    Thinking about exchange rates. That Euro price is not half bad. Really good for strong Italian coffee. I’d dig those 1950’s styles shops too. Thanks for sharing!


  4. I have been to Amalfi, Sorrento but never to Naples. This post and video have made me inspired to visit Naples and eat sfogliatella.

    1. Author

      We want to return to Naples for many reasons. The sfogliatella is one of those reasons.

  5. Oh this all looks absolutely delicious! I’ve always loved the coffee in Europe, but haven’t had the chance to try it in Italy yet. I can’t wait for the day I do!!

  6. Coffee is my weakness – I absolutely love it! Naples is a fantastic city and I will definitely be using this guide when I go back 🙂

    Lucy x

  7. Ah, Italy! And their coffees. I’ve made the mistake once to order a cafe which landed me with a ristretto. Since then it’s cappuccino. Always!

  8. Mmmmmm, I’m going to Naples this summer so this post is great inspiration for me <3 I love coffee too and that pastry looks divine! I want to try that.

    1. Author

      You will love Naples! Let us know if you have any questions about where to eat during your visit.

  9. Thanks for this wonderful video! Thanks so much for visiting a wonderful city like Naples!
    I’m happy from the deep of my heart for watching “strangers” like you, enjoying much more than the average Italian guy here.
    Hugs from Napoli! 😀 Come back soon!

    1. Author

      It was our pleasure to visit Naples and enjoy all of the city’s culinary treasures like coffee, pizza and sfogliatella. We can’t wait to return for a third visit and enjoy even more.

  10. I would love to drink coffee in Naples 🙂 The Shakerato sounds like just my thing.

    1. Author

      You will love Naples if you give it a chance. The city has so many layers, plus some of the greatest pizza and coffee of course.

  11. So excited to be heading to Naples shortly! As a coffee lover, I look forward to trying all of these!

  12. stuck in 1950’s, now this is what most people like me will look for. The coffee seems delicious in the image. I am a Cappuccino lover, but going to taste all of them now. I will be visiting next month.

    1. Author

      Awesome! Enjoy every sip in wonderful Napoli!

  13. Ughhh this all looks incredible! We loved sipping on multiple cups of espresso while in Europe last spring, but this is something else altogether! The shakerato looks amazing and is an interesting concept, and once you threw in the pastries, I was done. Take me back!

  14. Just got back from a conference in Napoli.
    What a great town! Now, caffe: drank it everywhere. Even the automatic machines in the national parks and museums grind the beans fresh and produce a great little cup. I asked locals from Baia to Capri to Pozzuoli (one of my favorite towns anywhere) and at my hotel what they would buy to make at home if their Nona was visiting, or if they were bringing home a fiancé to meet the family. The almost universal answer was Kimbo Gold brand, which you can find in any grocery for a few euros. Didn’t taste the same when I made it at home, alas. Something very, very special about Napoli and their smoky, crema-topped little cups. And sfogliatella is truly one of Italia’s gifts to the world! Thanks for sharing your delight in your travels.

    1. Author

      Italians certainly do coffee their own way. Most cafes in Napoli use beans from passalacqua (sometimes under the label “Mexico”) which can be bought at various outlets around the city. Apparently the espresso machines used there are fairly unique in that they’re gas powered. We just like the way the baristas maneuver those giant levers. Thanks for reading.

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