The Naples coffee culture is unique compared to all the other cities that we’ve visited around the world. See what it’s like to drink the best coffee in Naples Italy at cafes throughout the city. Then check out our insider tips for drinking coffee in Italy like a pro.
Typical Neapolitan coffee is tasty, affordable and excellently crafted. Crowds fill neighborhood cafes day and night, quickly drinking small cups of espresso laced with copious amounts of sugar. And who can blame them?
A simple cup of coffee in Naples rarely costs over a Euro. In fact, most Naples cafes only charge 90 cents for a perfectly brewed cup of espresso. Maybe this is why locals drink three to four cups throughout the day.
Naples Coffee Culture
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, busily sipping their coffee before hurrying to their next destination.
Until recently, artisan/specialty coffee drinkers were out of luck in Naples. As we share later in this article, Naples now has a happy place for flat white fans too.
Our History with Coffee in Naples
During that month, we lived like locals in a Naples apartment with both a stovetop and a Moka pot. Needless to say, drinking coffee was one of our favorite daily rituals both at home and in the neighborhood.
Buy a Moka Pot to make fresh coffee at home. Alfonso Bialetti invented the Moka pot in 1933 and it remains the easiest and cheapest way to brew Naples style coffee.
Even so, we craved the specialty coffee experience that we normally embrace everywhere we travel. Despite searching every corner of the city, specialty coffee hadn’t yet arrived in Naples.
Upon our return in 2020, we visited Ventimetriquadri. This pioneering Vomero cafe serves specialty coffee to both discerning locals and thirsty travelers.
With its focus on single origin beans and modern filtration methods, Ventimetriquadri has introduced Naples to coffee’s third wave. Time will tell whether this introduction will stoke a Neapolitan coffee revolution
Typical Naples Cafes
The recent (and welcome) addition of third wave coffee to the scene hasn’t removed rustic charm from the Neapolitan coffee experience.
The city’s’ coffee scene remains stuck in the 1950s which is a beautiful thing. 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 in Napoli. This is a coffee culture where customers quickly imbibe hand-pulled drinks while standing at long bars.
If you order a cappuccino in Naples, you’re in for a special treat since most baristas know how to steam milk with the ideal consistency of foam and liquid. We like to start our Naples mornings with these wonderful, milky drinks served ‘wet’, meaning that steam milk is poured directly over the espresso.
Though free Wi-Fi is common, customers rarely sit with laptops at Naples cafes. And forget about choosing the coffee’s origin or roaster since, in a strange Neapolitan ‘coincidence’, almost every cafe seems to use the same roasting company’s espresso beans.
Interestingly, many Napoli cafes use beans from Passalacqua. Is it because this third-generation roasting company makes the best coffee in Naples Italy or is there another reason? We have our personal opinion – 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 at a Naples Cafe
Italians tend to like their coffee strong and sweet, and that’s especially the case in Naples. We’ve 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 order 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 in Naples 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.
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.
How To Drink Coffee in Italy (especially Naples)
Despite rumors about the grittiness of Naples and its people, you won’t be turned away if you order your coffee incorrectly when you visit Naples. Don’t worry – the locals don’t bite!
That being said, here is our recommended way of ordering coffee in Italy without getting the dreaded eye roll:
These instructions apply to the thousands of typical cafes in Naples as well as throughout Italy. The city also has more formal cafes where you can sit while you drink your coffee.
Coffee prices are often higher at sit-down cafes in Naples.
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 disappoints us. Without a doubt, Caffè Mexico is our favorite when it comes to traditional Naples coffee shops.
Fancier Naples cafes like Gran Caffè Gambrinus and Cafè del Professore are popular with tourists, However, be aware that prices are higher at these historic Naples coffee institutions.
Another option is Caffè Letterario Intra Moenia situated at centrally-located Piazza Bellini. This is a pleasant Naples cafe where you can take a break from touring while sipping coffee at an outside table.
Specialty coffee drinkers will want to head straight to Ventimetriquadri for flat whites, cappuccinos and filtered coffees crafted with beans roasted by Florence’s Ditta Artiginale. Beyond brewing excellent coffee, this laptop friendly cafe offers both indoor and outdoor seating at its comfortable Vomero location.
Caffè del Professore is located at Piazza Trieste and Trento #2, 80132 Napoli, Italy.
Caffè Letterario Intra Moenia is located at Piazza Bellini, 70, 80138 Napoli, Italy.
Caffè Mexico has numerous locations in Naples.
Gran Caffè Gambrinus is located at Via Chiaia 1/2 (Pizza Trieste and Trento), 80132 Napoli, Italy.
Ventimetriquadri is located at Via Gian Lorenzo Bernini, 64a, 80129 Napoli, Italy.
What to Eat at Naples Cafes
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.
Don’t miss the following Italian sweet treats when you drink coffee at Naples cafes:
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 Naples sfogliatella experience. Better yet try a few and 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 Babà (Baba au Rhum in France) gained their popularity.
Sold throughout the Centro Storico, these large dome-topped, cup-like pastry carries a serious alcoholic punch. Other than drinking a caffè cornetto, eating a Babà 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 paired with coffee at Jamme Cafè.
Jamme Café is located at Corso Umberto I, 188,80138 Napoli, Italy.
Naples Coffee Video
Spending a month in Naples turned us into 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.
Watch our Naples coffee crawl video for a sneak peek inside ten typical Naples cafes. Yes, we drank ten espressos (and ate some tasty treats) in one highly caffeinated day. And, yes, we were up all night.
Plan Your Naples Trip
Now that we’ve convinced you to visit Naples and drink copious amounts of coffee, it’s time to find a place to stay.
We stayed at Dante Boutique Rooms for four nights during our 2020 visit and highly recommend it for both comfort and convenience. However, be aware this charming boutique hotel does not have an elevator.
We also stayed at the Ibis Styles Napoli Garibaldi for one night. We only recommend this barebones hotel if you’re arriving late and don’t want to worry about the reception being closed.
Since we wanted access to a kitchen when we visited Naples in 2017, we opted for an apartment for a month. As a bonus, this type of stay enabled our Da Michelle addiction based on its proximity to the famous pizzeria.
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About the Authors
Daryl & Mindi Hirsch
Saveur Magazine’s BEST TRAVEL BLOG award winners Daryl and Mindi Hirsch share their culinary travel experiences and recipes on the 2foodtrippers website and YouTube. The married Food and Travel content creators live in Lisbon, Portugal.
Original Publication Date: June 8, 2017
Republish Date: October 13, 2020