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 the best coffee in Naples Italy at cafes throughout the city and check out our insider tips for drinking coffee in Italy.
Previously, we traveled to Italy 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 time, 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.
- Naples Cafes – Stuck in the 1950s
- Naples Coffee Video
- Naples Coffee Culture
- What to Drink in a Naples Cafe
- How To Drink Coffee in Italy (especially Naples)
- Where to Drink Coffee in Naples
- What to Eat in a Naples Cafe
- Research Naples Hotels
- Book a Tour
- Buy a Travel Guide
Naples Cafes – Stuck in the 1950s
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.
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!
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Naples Coffee Culture
Though we’re normally coffee connoisseurs (code word for snobs) who gravitate to third wave coffee shops like those we frequented in Budapest, Bucharest, Hamburg, 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.
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 coffee in Naples is tasty, affordable and excellently crafted. 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.
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
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.
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.
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.
How To Drink Coffee in Italy (especially Naples)
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 of ordering coffee in Italy without getting the dreaded eye roll:
- Order your coffee and pay at the register. If you want a typical espresso in Napoli, just say “uno caffè per favore.”
- 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.
- Drink the glass of water, preferably sparkling, to cleanse your palate.
- Add sugar to taste once the coffee arrives.
- Drink the coffee at the bar. If you ordered food (see below), eat the food at the bar too.
- 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
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. Without a doubt, Caffè Mexico is our favorite Naples coffee shop.
Fancier Naples cafes like Gran Caffè Gambrinus and Il Vero Bar del Professore are popular with tourists, However, be aware that prices are higher at these Naples coffee institutions.
Sometimes we’re not sure if we want a coffee or an Aperol Spritz. For these times, Ba-Bar in the tony Chiaia neighborhood is a go-to destination. As a bonus, Ba-Bar also serves food and does a pre-dinner aperitivo service.
Another option is Caffè Letterario Intra Moenia located on centrally-located Piazza Bellini. Intra Moenia is a pleasant Naples cafe where you can take a break from touring while sipping coffee at an outside table.
Ba-Bar is located at Via Bisignano, 20, 80121 Napoli, Italy.
Caffè Letterario Intra Moenia is locaated at Piazza Bellini, 70, 80138 Napoli, Italy.
Caffè Mexico has numerous locations in 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.
Il Vero Bar del Professore is located at Piazza Trieste E Trento, 46, 80132 Napoli, Italy.
What to Eat in a Naples Cafe
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:
Our go-to 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. Better yet try a few to find your personal favorite.
Sfogliatella Mary is located at Galleria Umberto I, 66, 80132 Napoli, Italy.
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 cornetto, 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.
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.
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