Guest Post || Italian vs. American Coffee Culture: 3 Tips for Your Next Trip to Italy by Anna Kay

If you’re making plans to travel to Italy, then there should be one must-have experience on your to-do list: enjoying a coffee in an authentic Italian bar, or café as the Italians call it.

However, while the Hollywood movies and sitcoms have popularized large cups, takeaway coffees and lavish spaces of Starbucks brand cafés, actually the true Italian coffee culture is very different. Here are 3 key tips on how to immerse yourself in the local culture on your next trip to Italy:

Design and size of coffee shops – small is beautiful

There are just a handful of huge cafes in the major cities of Italy. This often comes as a surprise to travelers, since most coffee shops are small, tiny establishments, with limited seating and swift service. These places are loud with locals talking to each other or to the barista whom they usually know quite well.


In contrast, the popular American coffee chain, Starbucks, has set the standard with its larger shops, modern design, plenty of facilities and lots of space available. However, the opposite is what makes Italian cafes quite charming, romantic and picture-perfect for your selfies. 🙂

Coffee types and sizes are very different

It’s a known fact that Starbucks, a brand present in nearly every corner of the world, has little connection with authentic Italian coffee. And while many assume that ‘frappuccino’ is a word with Italian origins, it is actually not.


In Italy, if you order a latte, you will likely get just a glass of milk. Also, there is little similarity between an espresso served at Starbucks and one served in a local Italian café. The National Institute of Italian Espresso informs that a traditional espresso shot is approximately 29 millimeters (Italians finish it in three quick sips); but at Starbucks, you will get a generous, larger portion with quite a different taste.

Multiple, quick trips to a café per day is how Italians do it

Even the culture of drinking coffee at a Starbucks outlet and an Italian café is poles apart. While you may take your time lounging on a comfortable sofa, sipping on your Grande or Venti size drink and making use of the Wi-Fi at a Starbucks, an Italian café is hardly a place to hang around. People walk in, grab their standard size coffee and chat for five to ten minutes before making their way out (soon to be back for more!).

If you want to learn more about the intriguing coffee culture of Italy, then take a look at this Med Cruise Guide’s infographic below. It illustrates the key coffee drinking rules that help you avoid looking like a tourist on your next trip to Italy. Enjoy!

Infographic, 10 Italian Coffee Drinking Rules

Bio: Anna Kay is an avid traveler, photographer, and editor at She loves exploring and island-hopping across the Mediterranean and enjoying local food specialties.

Disclaimer: *Contents of this story is Authors personal views and presentation.

**Photos from

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A group of friends from varied professional backgrounds, bound together by wanderlust & an intense love for vegetarian food! Most of us developed this wanderlust in our childhood years & haven’t stopped since then! We like to explore all segments of travel, be it offbeat, budget or luxury. We are here to share our stories of travel & help you connect with the locals. (Food Reviews as an added bonus!) Twitter - @yatripandit Facebook -

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