Do Italians Drink Espresso After Dinner?

For some Americans, coffee is only meant to be a morning beverage, something you grab from the coffee shop in to-go cups on your way to work. Others will stop by their favorite barista multiple times a day, in search of their favorite caffeinated beverage.

espresso in the making

In countries like Italy, drinking coffee involves a specific etiquette, with certain types of coffee at certain times – including regularly drinking espresso after dinner.

For more on the coffee etiquette of Italy and other countries, read on.

Do Italians Drink Espresso After Dinner?

Italians drink coffee just about any time of day, but they’ll often have an espresso after dinner. According to Italians, coffee oils actually aid digestion. making it ideal after they’ve finished eating.

As for the choice of espresso – the tiny quantity regulates the amount of caffeine in your system. And it’s easier to digest than something heavier like a caffe latte.

Do Europeans Drink Espresso After Dinner?

Many Europeans do choose coffee – espresso in particular – as an after-dinner beverage. It’s a common way to get a pick-me-up after consuming a lot of food.

Many countries drink coffee after a meal for the energy and the taste – not just Italy.

What Other Countries Drink Coffee After Dinner?

It can be difficult to figure out if a country drinks coffee after dinner, but here are a few places where they won’t look at you funny if you ask for an espresso – or other types of coffee – after the evening meal:

France and Spain are most likely to give you espresso if you ask for a ‘caffè’ (or the local equivalent).

Britain, Germany, and surrounding countries are more likely to serve brewed coffee, but it’s not hard to get espresso if you want it.

Note: Most European countries prefer not to have coffee beverages like ‘caffè latte’ or cappuccino later in the day. These heavier coffees are considered morning beverages only.

Should You Drink Espresso After Dinner?

There are experts on both sides of the question Some say the extra jolt of energy that late in the day is detrimental to your sleep schedule.

Others say that a cup of espresso after dinner aids in digestion, and will help you stay awake, instead of being drowsy after the meal.

In the end, the answer depends on what kind of sleep schedule you enjoy, what kind of metabolism you have, and your overall caffeine consumption.

Why Do Italians Drink Coffee After Dinner?

According to Italian tradition, the dinner meal involves a lot of heavy food. A small cup of espresso helps digest all that heavy food.

In addition, caffeine helps Italians stay awake, but not necessarily beyond when they want to be awake. Drinking a shot of espresso is often served as a counterpoint to the sweetness of the dessert.

In addition, many Italians enjoy adding grappa or other liquor to their evening cup to help round out the meal.

What Is After Dinner Coffee Called In Italy?

After dinner coffee in Italy is often called a caffè corretto – generally coffee and liquor.

It can also be called a caffè normale – just a plain shot of espresso, to which sugar can sometimes be added.

Do Italians Drink Coffee At Night?

Italians drink coffee at any time of day, from first thing in the morning to the last beverage they drink at night. Digestive benefits aside, the culture and lifestyle of the country support drinking coffee at any time.

Do Italians Drink Coffee After Every Meal?

Italians drink coffee anytime, though they tend to have preferences for what type of coffee they drink with any meal. For example, most Italians only drink coffee with milk, early in the morning.

An example of the way typical Italians drink coffee throughout the day is something like this:

  • Breakfast: Coffee with milk (Italians don’t drink milk after midday because it’s too heavy)
    • This is when Italians drink cappuccino OR
    • Caffè latte (coffee with milk)
    • A latte macchiato (milk with a splash of espresso)
  • Lunch: Plain black coffee as a pick me up
    • Can be a double shot, or a double espresso
    • For the less caffeine enthused, it can be a caffè lungo (coffee with hot water)
  • Dinner: a good coffee after dinner, usually espresso
    • Sometimes with grappa, or paired with a dessert wine.

What Kind of Coffee Drinks Do Italians Drink At Night?

The most common preference is for espresso, sometimes mixed with light dessert wines or other liquors.

Note: Italians drink coffee as a social occasion, and it’s not uncommon for them to enjoy it ‘al banco’ – at the bar with friends, not just at their home table.

Common And Popular Espresso Drinks

If you’re wanting something other than a simple ‘espresso’, you can try out drinking these espresso-based options:

  • caffè doppio – also known as a double espresso, it’s two shots instead of one, and popular with Italians during or after lunch.
  • caffè lungo – espresso and hot water
  • caffè normale – the Italian way to ask for a single shot of espresso
  • caffè macchiato – Espresso with a dollop of milk (not to be confused with a latte macchiato, which has the components reversed in amounts)
  • cappuccino – equal parts espresso and milk.
  • caffè correto – espresso with a splash of alcoholic beverage (preferred for after dinner)

Why Is Coffee So Significant In Italy?

The Italian social scene became far more robust with the advent of ‘coffee houses’, where like-minded individuals met around a table or at the bar to discuss politics and more over a drink made from perfectly roasted coffee beans.


It’s often their first sip in the morning, and one of their last indulgences of the night – but there’s no doubt that Italians love their coffee, whatever time of day it is.

There’s also no question that, if you’re looking for the best-roasted beans and top-quality coffee for your household to enjoy – Italy is the place to go.

Andrea Arthur