The Reason You Shouldn't Order A Cappuccino After Dinner In Italy

A lot of people might feel a little bit like "Emily in Paris" when they travel to a foreign country for the first time. While the majority of travelers are able to escape the love triangles Emily finds herself in, it can be intimidating to learn the language, culture, and customs of an unfamiliar land. This is particularly true when it comes to the ritual of drinking coffee. Americans love their coffee and espresso, and according to the National Coffee Association, many of them are okay with consuming these caffeinated beverages at different points during the course of the day, though it partly varies by age. But if you are traveling to a country like Italy for a Roman holiday, the coffee culture embraces a certain time restriction when it comes to cappuccino.

Per Eataly, Italians have been drinking coffee since the 1500s, and the coffee customs in this land of delicious pasta, breathtaking art, and beautiful churches are not to be trifled with. There is a time and a place to drink cappuccino, but after dinner is not that time. This may be hard to digest if you enjoy the combination of milk and espresso after an evening meal – or if you like adding a little bit of coffee to milk, which the Dutch call a "reverse coffee" (koffie verkeerd), per Carta Coffee Merchants. But having this drink late in the day is not recommended in Italy.

When in Rome

While in Italy, breakfast is often a cappuccino and a sweet bite, according to Fodor's Travel, this espresso drink is not a drink of choice past noon for a simple reason. Milk-filled coffee drinks are considered too heavy to cap off the night. They are also apparently thought by some to disrupt the digestive process, per Walks of Italy. (Notably, Healthline says that adding milk to coffee can cause problems for lactose-intolerant individuals but nothing about the time of day when milk is added to coffee.) Of course, if that is not enough to get you to forgo your late-day cappuccino, Walks of Italy cautions that you should get ready to be labeled as a tourist. So, what should you drink instead?

Eataly recommends trying an espresso after you've had dinner, and if you need a mid-day pick-me-up, the site suggests trying a caffè macchiato, which is espresso and just a splash of milk. Additionally, Eataly warns that you don't want to ask for a to-go cup either unless you want to reveal your tourist status. Coffee is meant to be a social drink, casually sipped upon at the bar or "al banco." So, when in Rome, do as the Romans do: Relax and enjoy every sip with a posse of friends.