Coffee etiquette: how to serve and drink espresso practicing good manners

A guide to enjoying an espresso coffee with elegance and good manners at home and at coffee bars.


Enjoying it is a pleasure, serving it is a ritual. Yes, even coffee has its own etiquette and rules. Should you drink the accompanying water before or after the coffee? How do you stir coffee? Where should the teaspoon be placed?
Here are some tips that every espresso lover should know and respect to drink and serve coffee properly.


How to serve coffee to guests

Coffee should not be drunk at the table but in the living room at the end of a meal, after your guests are comfortably seated on the sofa.

Coffee should be served in a coffee pot on an elegant tray, with coffee cups, saucers, underplates, teaspoons and a sugar bowl. Except for the teaspoons, everything should be strictly made of porcelain.

The coffee cup should be served to the guest with the handle facing to the right and the teaspoon placed on the saucer, also on the right.

One teaspoon is required for the coffee, one for sugar and one for cream, if provided. Etiquette cannot be relinquished: teaspoons should not be mixed up. The coffee spoon is always the smallest.

How much coffee should be poured? The coffee cup should be filled ⅔ full.

Some people maintain that guests should help themselves to sugar, whereas others say that the hostess should add the sugar after asking if guests want sugar and how much. In any case, never serve sugar without asking and never stir the coffee (everyone should stir their own).

When everyone has drunk their coffee, the hostess should collect the coffee cups on the tray, clear away and then serve liqueurs and chocolates.


How to drink coffee

Coffee should always be stirred to ensure that its aroma is fully released, even if no sugar has been added.

It should be stirred slowly moving the teaspoon from the top to the bottom of the cup, without touching it and without stirring it in a circular motion as you would when cooking polenta.

The espresso cup is not a glass of vintage wine: swirling it is a sign of bad manners.

The coffee cup should be taken to the lips and not the reverse.

Don’t lift up your little finger while sipping and don’t tilt your head backwards to finish the last drop.

Never put the teaspoon in your mouth or lick it, even if you are highly tempted to collect the sugar left on the bottom of the cup…

Coffee should be drunk silently, without emitting strange sounds.

The coffee cup should be put back on the saucer in a polite way, taking care not to make a noise. It should be placed with the right hand while the left hand firmly holds the saucer (left-handers are allowed to do the opposite). The teaspoon should be put on the saucer, always on the same side as the handle.


Ways to practice good manners at the coffee shop

Look the bartender or waiter in the eye when ordering your bar coffee blend.

If you adapt without complaining, for example, even if the coffee bar has run out of a particular ingredient and is unable to satisfy a request for an unusual order, this will demonstrate elegance and good manners.

Don’t change your order, especially if the bartender has already started to prepare it.

The accompanying water should be drunk before the coffee in order to “clean” your palate so that you can fully appreciate its aroma, and not afterwards as if it were necessary to remove a bad taste.

The empty sugar sachet should be left on the saucer.

If the coffee bar is crowded, it is good practice not to remain seated too long if you have ordered only one espresso. The rule of thumb is 1 coffee = 1 hour (maximum).

And last but not least: always thank the bartender or waiter after ordering, after receiving the coffee and on leaving the coffee bar.


Coffee etiquette and manners for espresso lovers

Little fingers being lifted up, coffee cups being rotated like glasses of red wine and teaspoons that are “sucked”: these are bad habits that immediately reveal pretentious ladies and phony coffee experts. To fully enjoy an espresso, all you need is to be in good company but a touch of elegance never goes amiss!


Cover picture by pinimg.com

Did you like the article and want to know more about Caffè Mauro?