The fact that there are specific rules for properly serving and drinking coffee, a beverage that is such a huge part of Italian culture, certainly comes as no surprise! And in fact, the Italian Academy of Galateo has dedicated an article to this topic, setting out the good manners by which coffee fans should abide.
So, let’s take a closer look at all the recommendations for drinking our beloved coffee with good manners! But first, let’s find out how it should be served.
Coffee serving etiquette
How to serve coffee at the bar
Coffee consumed at the bar should be served in a small espresso cup. The cup should sit on a saucer, along with a teaspoon, placed on the customer’s right, obviously with the handle facing towards him. The handle of the cup should be set at a 40-degree angle to the customer’s perspective, to make it easier to pick up.
When serving cakes, biscuits, pastries, or chocolates with coffee, these should be set on another small plate, placed on the customer’s left-hand side. The milk required to make the coffee “macchiato”, if requested, should be poured fresh into a small jug, and placed on the counter of the bar for his convenience.
How to serve coffee at home
Even when the rest of the meal is served by serving staff, coffee must always be served by the host. Like at the bar, it must always be served with the cup resting on its own saucer.
Cups of coffee should never be served at the table one by one. Instead, a serving tray should be used to carry the empty cups, complete with saucer and teaspoon, to the guests.
The coffee should then be served at the table, directly from the coffee-maker, if this looks presentable and is free from stains or marks, and otherwise from a coffee pot. It’s a good idea to take a small jug of milk to the table on the tray too, as well as a small plate with pastries and chocolates for those who like to end their meal with a sweet after-dinner treat.
The tray should be left in the middle of the table until the guests have finished drinking their coffee, after which the empty cups and plates can be placed back on it and returned to the kitchen.
The rules for drinking coffee at the bar, at home and when eating out.
Whether you’re drinking coffee at the bar, at a restaurant or at home, the rules of coffee etiquette are very clear. It is good manners to ensure that the cup is never separated from its saucer.
There are also clear rules on how to sugar coffee correctly. If you drink your coffee with sugar, you must stir it by moving the teaspoon from bottom to top, and not by twirling the teaspoon round in the cup. This rule also has a functional reasoning behind it: this way the foam on the top of the coffee will not be deflated.
When drinking coffee, the right way to do it is to place the saucer in the palm of your left hand and pick up the cup by the handle with your right hand, then raise it to your mouth, tipping the head back slightly. Although at the bar this rule of good manners has been superseded by the habit of leaving the saucer on the bar counter and picking up the cup on its own, it is important to abide by it when at home.
Never raise the teaspoon to the mouth and never leave it inside the cup, even when you’ve finished your coffee; it must always be put back in the place you got it from: on the right-hand side of the saucer.
When lifting the cup, grip the handle using the index and middle finger against the thumb, while curling the other fingers into the palm of the hand.
Were you already familiar with most of these coffee etiquette rules? We hope we’ve satisfied your curiosity, like we did when we told you the story of how the coffee cup was invented.