Monday, December 4, 2023

Late-night espresso: Italian drinking culture

by Mads

How do Italians drink espresso so late?

If you’ve ever been to Italy, chances are you’ve noticed a peculiar aspect of Italian culture: late-night espresso drinking. In other cultures, coffee is usually consumed in the morning or early afternoon, but in Italy, espresso is often enjoyed well into the evening.

So, how do Italians drink espresso so late? The answer lies in the Italian concept of “La Pausa,” or the afternoon break. Italians believe that taking a break during the day to rest, relax, and socialize is crucial to their overall well-being. This break often includes a small cup of espresso, which provides a quick burst of energy to get through the rest of the day.

Additionally, Italian dinners are often eaten much later than in other cultures. It’s not uncommon for Italians to sit down for dinner at 8 or 9 pm, making a shot of espresso after the meal a much-needed pick-me-up before heading to bed.

Another factor is the Italian attitude towards sleep. Italians don’t typically follow the same strict eight hours of sleep rule that many other cultures do. Instead, they tend to take naps during the day and sleep later in the morning. This allows them to stay up later and enjoy a late-night espresso without affecting their sleep schedule.

The importance of espresso in Italian culture

Espresso is an essential part of Italian culture and is much more than just a beverage. It’s a social activity that brings people together and promotes conversation. It’s a signal that it’s time to take a break, enjoy the moment, and be present in the company of others.

In Italy, espresso is also seen as an art form. From the preparation of the coffee to the way it’s served, every detail is carefully considered. The baristas, or “Maestros,” take pride in their craft and are highly respected for their skill and expertise.

The Italian government even enforces strict regulations on the production and distribution of espresso, ensuring that only the highest quality beans and methods are used. This level of care and attention to detail is a testament to the importance of espresso in Italian culture.

The benefits of late-night espresso drinking

While late-night caffeine consumption may seem counterintuitive, drinking espresso at night can actually have some benefits. One of the most significant advantages is improved digestion. After a heavy Italian meal, a shot of espresso can help improve digestion by enhancing the production of gastric acid and speeding up digestion.

Espresso can also provide an energy boost without the same crash as other energy drinks, allowing Italians to stay up late and enjoy time with friends and family without feeling drained.

Finally, studies have shown that drinking coffee in moderation can have some health benefits, such as reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes, liver disease, and Alzheimer’s disease. So, while indulging in a late-night espresso may not seem healthy, it could actually have some positive effects.

How to enjoy espresso like an Italian

If you’re interested in experiencing Italian espresso culture for yourself, there are a few things you should know. First, unlike in some other countries, Italians drink espresso quickly and standing up at a café. It’s not typically consumed while sitting down or as a to-go drink.

Additionally, don’t be afraid to order a “caffè corretto,” or “corrected coffee.” This is when a shot of alcohol, usually brandy or grappa, is added to the espresso. It’s a popular drink in Italy and is often ordered after dinner as a digestif.

Finally, remember that espresso is meant to be savored and enjoyed, not just consumed for the caffeine boost. Take the time to appreciate the rich, bold flavors and enjoy the moment with friends or family.


In conclusion, late-night espresso drinking is an essential part of Italian culture that carries numerous social, cultural, and health benefits. While it may seem counterintuitive to consume caffeine at night, the Italian approach to sleep, digestion, and energy consumption makes it a natural fit for their lifestyle.

If you’re interested in experiencing Italian espresso culture for yourself, don’t be afraid to explore the many cafes and bars that serve espresso throughout Italy. Take the time to savor the flavors, enjoy the moment, and appreciate the rich history and tradition behind this beloved beverage.

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