Coffee in Milano
Having lived in Milan for the six months, working as an au pair, I had very much been thrown into the Italian café culture. Since most au pairs had the days free before school lets out, it was very likely we would head to a café to catch up with friends and relax.
Italians take coffee very seriously. It’s one of those things, like designer handbags, that they take great pride in. But what’s great about the coffee culture is, despite it being an integral part of the country, coffee is actually very cheap here. It took a couple of weeks, but once I’d found my footing and tried out a few cafes, I instigated the rule that I would not go anywhere that charged more than two euros for a cappuccino, and that was being generous as we ended up discovering a lot of great places that charged around the one-thirty mark.
If you want to look like a local, simply order a caffe – you’ll then be given an expresso shot of coffee that will have you buzzing all day. If you want something a little less intense, order a caffe latte, which will be a bigger coffee with milk. And as a rule, the locals don’t order a cappuccino after midday, as it’s simply not done. However, if you’re not Italian, you can get away with ordering one after 12pm without being frowned at.
Below are a few of my favourite cafes in Milan, so if you’re in the city and need a caffeine fix, check out these places. I can’t claim to have visited every café in Milan, but I certainly gave it a fair whack. It’s a hard job, but someone had to do it!
G Cova & Co
One of my favourite haunts and not just because I was logged into their Wi-Fi and my usual tram stopped just across the road from it! This one is a great place to meet with a group of friends because you can usually get a table with no trouble. Again, this seems another favourite with the suited and booted working crowd who come in for a quick coffee at the counter before heading out again.
From the outside, we originally thought this place would be quite expensive since it’s put together very nicely. Then we found out it’s only 1.20 Euros for a cappuccino and we never looked back! Their selection of brioches and cakes always works in their favour too!
Via Vincenzo Monti
This is a very small, very un-ostentatious café that you could easily walk straight past, unless you get distracted by their gorgeous window display of cakes. This café is perfect for a coffee and something full of, well, sugar.
I’d developed a slightly unhealthy addiction to having a brioche alla crema (custard filled croissant) with my coffee and for my money, no other café crams quite as much crema in as Sugar does.
There’s always a steady stream of people, some just enjoying an espresso at the counter before dashing back to work, but everyone is always greeted as regulars. If you want to sit down, just note that there are about eight seats inside and twice as many outside, but in winter, it’s not entirely preferable. Aim to grab a window seat if you can, as it’s a great opportunity to people watch and my friends and I experienced a fair amount of eye-flirting from cute Italian guys who were walking past when we had these seats.
Bar Luce at Fondazione Prada
Not quite in the city centre, this one requires a little bit of a travel, but it’s worth it. If you’re in the city centre, you can grab the number 19 tram from near the Duomo, which is probably the quickest way to get to Fondazione Prada. Though I would recommend just checking this before travelling in case tram routes happened to have changed when you’re reading this!
If you’re an art lover, it’s worth paying a visit to the latest exhibition at Fondazione Prada, since that’s why it was built, and then grab a coffee afterwards.
When you hear the name Prada, you assume the items on the menu are going to cost you and arm a leg, but the coffee and pastries are all very reasonably priced. So sit back and enjoy your cappuccino in the café designed by Wes Anderson. His pastel trademark colours make the place very bright and inviting and the fifties diner influence just adds a little more quirkiness.
If you can grab a table next to the window, you can also enjoy your coffee while look at the gold-plated building that is part of the art collection.
If you’ve already been to Milan, where was your favourite place to grab a coffee?