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Naples Coffee Guide and The Art of Drinking Italian Coffee

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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.

Coffee at Caffeteria Ippolito in Naples

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 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 espresso. Maybe this is why locals drink three to four cups throughout the day.

Naples Coffee Culture

Shakerato in Naples Italy
The Naples coffee culture is for real. This Shakerato at Caffe Mexico provided us with a special afternoon treat.

Certain destinations have distinct coffee cultures. Such is the case with Cuban coffee and Vietnamese coffee. The same goes for Neapolitan coffee.

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

The Art of Drinking Coffee in Naples Cafes
Drinking tiny cups of coffee in Naples makes us smile.

We arrived in Naples as Italian coffee novices in early 2017. Sure, we’d been to Italy before including visits to Rome, Florence, Matera and even Bologna. But this month-long visit was different.

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.

→ Click here to 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.

Barista at Ventimetriquadri in Naples Italy
Vincenzo Fioretto has added third wave coffee to the Naples coffee landscape. His Ventimetriquadri is the city’s first specialty coffee cafe.

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

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

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.

Cappuccino in Naples Italy
We love the coffee in Naples and apparently the coffee loves us back.

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

Coffee Cup in Naples Italy
Although coffee in Naples typically costs under a Euro, the quality is top-notch. Just look at the crema on this caffè.

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:

Caffè

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.

Cappuccino

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.

Shakerato

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 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.

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.

How To Drink Coffee in Italy (especially Naples)

Coffee for Two in Naples Italy
We rarely say no to coffee in 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:

  • 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.
  • Leave a small optional tip if you’re satisfied with the service.
  • Thank the barista (Grazie!) and leave.

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.

Pro Tip
Coffee prices are often higher at sit-down cafes in Naples.

Where to Drink Coffee in Naples

Barista at Mexico in Naples Italy
Mexico is a popular coffee bar chain in Naples. Baristas wear uniforms when they pull espressos and shake shakeratos.

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.

Nocciolato at Il Vero Bar del Professore in Naples
We drank this hazelnut Nocciolato at Il Vero Bar del Pofessore in Naples. Though relatively expensive, it provided us with a sweet hit of caffeine during a buys day of touring.

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.

Flat White at Ventimetriquadri in Naples Italy
Ventimetriquadri is a unicorn coffee shop in Naples thanks to its commitment to serving specialty coffee brewed with lightly roasted Arabica coffee beans.

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

Sfogliatellas in Naples Italy
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.

Don’t miss the following Italian sweet treats when you drink coffee at Naples cafes:

Sfogliatella

Santa Rosa Soogliatella at Sfogliatella Mary at Galleria Umberto in Naples Italy
We ate this Santa Rosa sfogliatella at Sfogliatella Mary in Naples’ Galleria Umberto.

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.

Babà

Rum Baba at Caffeteria Ippolito in Naples
This display of Rum Babàs at Caffeteria Ippolito looks fairly innocuous considering that these rum-laden 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 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.

Cornetto

Pistachio Cornetto in Naples Italy
Green pistachio cream added a colorful panache to our Cornetto at Jamme Cafè.

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.

As an extra bonus, we eat Neapolitan food in the video too. We stop for pastries at Sfogliatella Mary, President Bill Clinton’s favorite fried pizza at Dal Presidente and gelato at Fantasia Gelati. Yum!

→ Discover 27 Naples food favorites.

Plan Your Naples Trip

Graffiti Building in Naples Italy
While we don’t recommend staying in this particular building, we highly recommend that you stay overnight in Naples.

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.

Dante Boutique Rooms in Naples
Having a great comfortable place to sleep is key in Naples. We stayed in this comfortable room at Dante Boutique Rooms.

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.

Planning Checklist

Thirsty for More Coffee in Italy?

Check out our Rome Coffee Guide with the city’s best specialty coffee shops.

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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.

Disclosure

We update our articles regularly. Some updates are major while others are minor link changes and spelling corrections. Let us know if you see anything that needs to be updated in this article.

Important Update
Some businesses may revise their hours and menus due to COVID-19. Others may close, either temporarily or permanently, without notice. Be sure to check websites for updated information and make advance reservations where possible.

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