Do Italians drink espresso after dinner? Exploring the Italian espresso tradition

Italians are renowned for their deep-rooted coffee culture, which extends far beyond merely a drink to start the day. Espresso holds a cherished place in Italian society, embodying a deep-seated appreciation for quality.

Here, we delve into the nuances of this culture, particularly the practice of drinking espresso after dinner, and how you can bring the Italian coffee experience to your home with authentically Italian roasted beans.

Do Italians drink espresso after dinner?

Traditionally, espresso is a staple at the end of a meal, regardless of the time, and it is common to see Italians rounding off their dinner with a steaming shot of espresso. This practice is rooted in the belief that espresso, a strong and rich coffee, aids in digestion. The high acidity and caffeine content of espresso is thought to help the stomach process a heavy meal, making it a perfect epilogue to dinner.

Are you looking for authentic Italian coffee to enjoy the Italian way? Shop our range of coffee and hot drinks here.

Enjoying an espresso following dinner provides a moment to linger over the table, engage in lively conversation, and enjoy each other's company. This ritual underscores the Italian prioritisation of leisurely dining and the importance of social bonds.

Find out more about Italian espresso in our guide What is Italian espresso?

Top view on two transparent cups of italian coffee espresso on wooden surface with small biscuits.

What are the cultural rituals associated with Italian espresso consumption?

Nowhere has coffee become a more iconic symbol of the nation than in Italy (source). The “Italian espresso‟ has become closely identified with the country by both Italians and foreigners alike, as have those beverages which employ this as a base, such as cappuccino and caffè latte. The cultural rituals surrounding Italian espresso are deeply embedded in the daily life and social fabric of Italy, reflecting its significant role beyond just being a beverage. Espresso consumption in Italy is typically associated with frequent, quick visits to cafes, where espresso is consumed rapidly, often standing at the bar, emphasising the Italian preference for a quick and vibrant social interaction over coffee. Drinks such as cappuccinos and latte macchiatos are savoured in the morning, often alongside a croissant or other popular breakfast food.

In Italy, the process of preparing espresso is considered an art form, emphasising the skill and precision of the barista. The importance of the barista's role in crafting the perfect espresso represents the cultural significance of espresso in Italian society.

Read our guide How to enjoy espresso the Italian way to find out more.

Enjoy a sweeter, refined blend with Carluccio’s espresso di Milano

Enjoy Milanese-style ground coffee from pure Arabica beans. We use 100% Arabica beans from Central and South America, Africa and Indonesia.

Our Milano espresso blend provides chocolatey, caramel and hazelnut flavours. To grind your own beans finely for use in an espresso machine, you can shop our Milano coffee beans here. You can also grind our Milano coffee beans coarse for use in a cafetiere, providing honey, toffee and nutty flavours. Alternatively, shop our cafetiere Milano blend here.

Milano espresso coffee blend .

Shop our Milano espresso coffee blend .

What are the best accompaniments for Italian espresso?

Italian espresso is never consumed alongside a meal in Italy; however, it can be accompanied by simple, small bites that complement its robust flavour. A classic choice is a biscotto, such as cantuccini, a crunchy almond biscuit that is often dipped into the espresso to soften it slightly and add a sweet contrast to the espresso's intense flavour. It is also traditionally enjoyed in the morning, alongside a latte. Also known as amaretti, the almond biscuits are also a perfect after-meal snack that can be enjoyed alongside a cup of espresso.

For those preferring an option slightly less sweet, a small piece of dark chocolate or a grissini (thin, crunchy breadstick) can enhance the coffee's deep notes without overpowering its complex profile.

In many Italian bars, it is also common to see espresso served with a small glass of sparkling water on the side, which helps cleanse the palate and highlight the coffee's rich taste. These pairings are rooted in Italian culinary simplicity, where the quality of a few ingredients is showcased in perfect harmony.

Panettone, an Italian sweet bread and fruit cake, is a popular festive treat that can be enjoyed with more milky beverages, such as cappuccinos or lattes in the morning. It is also often consumed as a dessert in the afternoon, followed by an espresso. You can view our panettoni range here.

Why choose Carluccio's espresso?

At Carluccio's, we celebrate the rich tradition of Italian espresso. Our espresso beans are sourced from the finest growers, then roasted and ground in Italy, preserving the authenticity and superior quality of the beans. This meticulous process ensures that each cup of espresso you enjoy at Carluccio's not only tastes excellent but also carries the heritage of Italian coffee culture.

Find out more about how to drink espresso the Italian way here.

By adhering to traditional Italian roasting practices and using only the finest beans, we ensure each cup of espresso is fresh and full of flavour. Additionally, we are also committed to responsible sourcing, ensuring that not only are our products of high quality but also ethically obtained.

Choose between our sweet and refined Milano blend, our rich and lively Napoli blend, or our intense, creamy and full-bodied Roma blend for notes of walnut, dark caramel and spice. For a gentle yet rich flavour, our Siena espresso provides aromatic hints of citrus and almond.

Shop our full range of Italian coffee and hot drinks here.

Frequently asked questions: Italian espresso

What is the best time to drink espresso in Italy?

In Italy, espresso is enjoyed throughout the day, from morning to after dinner. The best time depends on personal preference and social context. Milkier beverages such as latte macchiatos are strictly enjoyed in the morning.

How do Italians drink their espresso?

Italians typically drink their espresso quickly and while standing at the bar. It is usually consumed in one or two sips, savoured for its rich flavour and aroma. Additionally, espresso can also be consumed following meals.

Read our guide on how to drink espresso the Italian way here.

Can espresso be made with any coffee bean?

Coffee beans that are dark roasted promote a fuller body and richer flavour and are more commonly used for making espresso.

Related Articles

The history of Italian espresso

How to make Italian espresso

What is Italian espresso?

How to drink espresso the Italian way