Saturday, December 2, 2023

Cultural Differences: Why Lattes Are a No-Go in Italy’s Coffee Scene

by Mads

Why Lattes are a No-Go in Italy’s Coffee Scene

When it comes to coffee culture, Italy is known for its strict traditions and academic approach to brewing the perfect cup of coffee. Italian coffee shops are known around the world for offering some of the best coffee, but to truly understand Italian espresso culture, you need to forget about lattes. In Italy, lattes are not consumed in the same way as they are in the United States or other countries. So, why not order a latte in Italy? Let’s explore cultural differences and why lattes are a no-go in Italy’s coffee scene.

What is a Latte?

A latte is a coffee drink made with espresso and steamed milk. The word “latte” is actually Italian for “milk,” but this refers to plain, unadulterated milk. This coffee drink originated in America and has become increasingly popular in recent years. However, in Italy, lattes are not part of traditional coffee culture.

What is Espresso Culture?

Italian coffee culture revolves around espresso drinks. Espresso is a type of coffee made by brewing finely ground coffee beans with hot water, under high pressure, for a short amount of time. This method creates a strong and rich coffee shot that is sipped and savored for its complex flavor profile. Espresso is not meant to be consumed in one gulp but rather enjoyed slowly.

Why not to order latte in Italy?

As mentioned earlier, lattes are not commonly consumed in Italy’s coffee culture. Here are several reasons why:

1. Milk is only consumed in the mornings.
In Italy, milk is only consumed in the morning, and usually with breakfast. In the afternoon and evenings, milk is not considered a suitable beverage. Therefore, ordering a latte in the afternoon or evening may cause confusion or even raised eyebrows.

2. Lattes are seen as a dessert rather than a drink.
In Italy, lattes are seen as a sweet and indulgent drink, more akin to a dessert than a coffee beverage. It is common to drink a cappuccino or a macchiato with breakfast or during a quick coffee break, but lattes are not typically consumed in between meals.

3. Lattes dilute the flavor of espresso.
Coffee purists argue that adding too much milk to an espresso diminishes the coffee’s rich and complex flavor. Therefore, ordering a latte may be seen as a way to mask the taste of espresso and may not be well-received in traditional coffee shops.

Can you still order a latte in Italy?

Of course, you can still order a latte in Italy, but be prepared for some confusion or questioning. In tourist areas, lattes may be offered, but in traditional coffee shops, it’s best to stick to more classic Italian coffee drinks like espresso, macchiato, or cappuccino.


Coffee culture in Italy may be different from what we’re used to, but it’s important to understand and respect traditional customs when traveling to a new place. Lattes may be a trendy drink in other parts of the world, but in Italy, it’s best to stick to typical espresso-based drinks. Who knows, you may find that you prefer the taste and appreciate the culture behind these traditional Italian beverages. So, when in Italy, do as the Italians do, and savor a perfectly brewed shot of espresso.

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