What Makes Neapolitan Coffee the Best in Italy?

A barista expertly prepares the orders at Caffè Gambrinus
A barista expertly prepares the orders at Caffè Gambrinus | © Bex Walton/Flickr

Italy may not have invented coffee, but the Italians have certainly embraced it as their own. Coffee culture here is guided by strict, if often unspoken, rules and rituals and each region has their own quirks and eccentricities to follow. Naples is no exception. Thanks to a signature coffee pot, a skill for making a super strong espresso and – according to some – the unique mineral content in the local water supply, the city has a reputation for serving up the best coffee in Italy.

Loved by over 40s

While Venetians were knocking back caffeine hits in 1640, it was only with the invention of the caffettiera napoletana – or napoletana for short – in the 19th century that coffee really took off in Naples. Despite its name, this flip coffee pot was actually invented by a Frenchman but is now a fully-fledged part of Neapolitan culture.

The neapolitan flip coffee pot, or caffettiera napoletana

Although now most commonly made of stainless steel instead of aluminium or tin, the napoletana still retains a distinctly nostalgic aura. Brewing takes around five minutes – an age compared to a 30 second espresso – and preparation is seen as a ritual to be savoured. First, fill the bottom section with water then add coffee grounds to the filter compartment. After boiling the water flip the whole pot over and wait for the dark and strongly flavoured coffee to filter into the serving pot.

For many Neapolitans this remains the best way to prepare coffee and the method has even made its way into popular culture: check out Eduardo De Filippo’s impassioned monologue in the film Questi Fantasmi! (1954) for proof of how seriously Italians take their coffee.


While caffè alla napoletana is traditionally lingered over and enjoyed at home, it’s now been replaced by the speedy espresso in bars and cafes. Aromatic, rich and with a syrupy consistency, espresso should be drunk in no more than three sips. The making of a good espresso is both a science and an art, and making the best requires what Neapolitans call the four M’s.

Start with the macinazione, or the grind of the beans; too fine and the water won’t filter properly, too coarse and not enough flavour will be extracted. Then, the miscela, or blend; good beans mean good coffee, but how long should they be roasted? Many Neapolitans favour a dark-medium roast to get that intense espresso for which they’re well known.

Next, the macchina, or espresso machine. According to the coffee brand Illy, water must pass through the coffee between 88°-93°C, under a minimum pressure of nine atmospheres, so a good machine is essential.

Finally, to expertly combine all these components a good mano, or hand, is crucial. Specifically, the hand of the barista who has the power to create a masterpiece – a rich, appealingly bitter shot of espresso complete with a foamy crema – or to ruin all the ingredients with a substandard cup.

For those who prefer their coffee a little sweeter than the dark, dense espresso for which Naples is so famous, many bars in the city offer cremina, a silky mix of sugar, coffee and sometimes cream. A spoon of this sweet Neapolitan specialty is added to the espresso and results in a mellower, less punchy drink. Whether you opt for a diehard espresso, stir in some cremina, or go traditional and use a caffettiera napoletana, Neapolitans have turned coffee into an art form.

Caffè alla nocciola (with hazelnut) and espresso in Napoli’s famous Gambrinus coffeeshop
culture trip left arrow
 culture trip brand logo

Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip

meet our Local Insider


women sitting on iceberg


2 years.


It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.


I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!

culture trip logo letter c
group posing for picture on iceberg
group posing for picture on iceberg

Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.

map of volcanic iceland trip destination points
culture trip brand logo
culture trip right arrow
landscape with balloons floating in the air


Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world

Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.

Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.

Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.

Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.

We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.