Trends & lifestyle
Coffee’s integral role in contemporary Italian culture has practically infused the liquid into the population’s DNA. The Milanesi, in particular, find coffee essential for keeping up with the city’s swift pace.
Italians are known for sipping their coffee on the fly–standing at the bar, throwing one back, and then getting on with their day. Yet, recent years have seen a shift in Milan’s coffee culture, thanks to several cafes that encourage sitting and sipping. In addition to offering standard bar service and to-go drinks, which came into vogue during the pandemic, the baristas have no qualms about patrons lingering at a table. The array of coffee drinks includes options prepared using specialty filters and contraptions like the V60 pourover dripper.
Here are a few places in Milan to savor an excellent cup of joe at one’s own pace.
The opening of the Starbucks Roastery in Milan made waves across the globe. Yet much to the chagrin of the naysayers, the first Italian outpost of the American coffee titan has fit right in and held its own. Starbucks’ third Roastery concept, the Milan location spans over 2,000 square meters and is outfitted with a striking bar made from Tuscan marble. The “themed” layout includes spaces dedicated to the in-house roastery, cocktails, and coffee drinks. The prices are higher than the city’s standard coffee drinks, so opt for one of the signatures that you can’t find anywhere else.
Orsonero, which barista Brent Jopson opened in 2016, is among Milan’s first specialty coffee shops. Tucked into a quiet street behind the bustling Corso Buenos Aires, visitors to this intimate locale can purchase beans from specialty and single-origin roasters and choose from a selection of beverages ranging from the standard cappuccino and espresso to more specialized contemporary drinks like pourover, flat white, cold brew, and cortado.
Stefano Ferraro and Lorenzo Cioli, who met while working together at Copenhagen’s esteemed Noma restaurant, opened Loste Café in early 2021. The locale is equal parts coffee bar, bakery, restaurant, and natural wine enoteca, and the specialty coffee is outstanding. Espresso and cappuccino are, of course, offered, along with flat white, cortado, cold brew, and filtered coffee. Patrons can park themselves at one of the indoor or outdoor tables and enjoy a house-made pastry, such as the cinnamon bun or cardamon roll, alongside their beverages.
Located in the chic Brera district, Cafezal, which means “coffee farm” in Portuguese, opened in 2018. The micro-roastery specializes solely in specialty coffee and serves breakfast and lunch. Brazilian-Italian owner Carlos Bitoncourt sources the beans from sustainable farmers in Bolivia, Brazil, Ethiopia, Kenya, Nicaragua, Panama, and East Timor. Espresso, cappuccino, flat white, pourover, and cold brew are always a sure bet, and the spacious, avant-garde backdrop is the perfect place to unwind and caffeinate.
Stepping inside Torrefazione Hodeidah feels like stepping back in time. This historic bottega opened in 1946 and offers a classic Italian coffee experience. Today, the owners still abide by the shop’s founding values, which include on-site roasting and thoughtfully hand-crafted products, while acclimating to contemporary habits. Inside is a standing room only, but patrons can linger at one of the sidewalk seats or high-tops tables set up beneath a covered area outside. Torrefazione Hodeidah also happens to be one of the few places in town serving the elusive Barbajada, an old-school Milanese classic. The cream-topped chocolate and coffee beverage dates back to the 19th century.