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Naples Coffee Guide | The Art of Drinking Coffee at Naples Cafes

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.

Important Update
Cafes may have revised their hours and menus due to COVID-19. Some may close, either temporarily or permanently, without notice. Be sure to check cafe websites for updated information.

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.

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

Naples Coffee Culture

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 Airbnb 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.

Pro Tip
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:

  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. Leave a small optional tip if you’re satisfied with the service.
  7. 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 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 in Naples Italy
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!

Plan Your Naples Stay

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.

We also stayed at the Ibis Styles Napoli Garibaldi for one night. We only recommend this barebones hotel if you are arriving late and don’t want to worry about the reception being closed.

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.

Since we wanted access to a kitchen when we visited Naples in 2017, we opted for an Airbnb apartment for a month. As a bonus, this type of stay enabled our Da Michelle addiction based on its proximity to the famous pizzeria.

Click here to research the best rates for hotels in Naples Italy. Or, if you prefer having access to a kitchen, click Airbnb apartment to find an Airbnb apartment.

Once you book your Naples hotel or apartment, click here to arrange car service from the airport to your hotel. Other transit options include taking a bus or taxi.

Hungry for Pizza in Naples?

Check out our Naples Pizza Guide with all the best pizzerias in the city. If you have a sweet tooth, check out our Naples Gelato Guide too.

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Pinterest image: four images of Naples with caption reading 'How to Drink Coffee in Naples Italy'
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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.

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Sveta

Tuesday 3rd of March 2020

I'm wondering -- did you manage to find a cafe where you can sit and work with a laptop? I'm moving to Naples in a couple of months and, as a remote worker, am hoping to find a few cafes where I can work. Thank you!

Ettore

Wednesday 19th of February 2020

Actually, I see far more bars using Toraldo than Passalaqua. Other common brands are Kenon(which is also on the coffee filled cup in one of the pictures in the article), Kimbo and, to a lesser extent, Lavazza. Illy, although very common in Italy, is rare in Naples because of the inclination of Neapolitans towards stronger tastes. I find your implication, if I got it correctly, quite offensive.

Bon B.

Thursday 16th of November 2017

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.

Daryl and Mindi Hirsch

Thursday 16th of November 2017

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.

Beth

Tuesday 27th of June 2017

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!

T. John

Tuesday 27th of June 2017

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.

Daryl and Mindi Hirsch

Tuesday 27th of June 2017

Awesome! Enjoy every sip in wonderful Napoli!