I have often heard and seen, especially in Italy, recommendations to avoid coffee with milk like Latte or Cappuccino in the afternoon, while Espresso is widely consumed during this time of day.

What is the reason for this? Why would one avoid milk-based coffee drinks during the afternoon?

  • 2
    I'm having trouble understanding your question. What makes you think that this is anything more than just a convention; similar to drinking tea at tea-time in England? Is there some factor involved that suggest that there's something more to it than just "this is how it's done?"
    – Shokhet
    Feb 16, 2015 at 4:58
  • Yes, you might be right, but I always understood it as something more than just a convention. In Italy people really replied with "Are you sure?", when I tried to order Cappuccino after my dinner and suggested me to have Espresso instead, so I thought there is a medical/scientific explanation for this.
    – lihume
    Feb 16, 2015 at 9:12
  • I've made some edits that I think add clarity to your question, but preserve your intent in asking. Please, check my work and make sure I haven't changed anything that changes the actual question you're asking :)
    – Tim Post
    Feb 16, 2015 at 9:35
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    This is just a convention in Italy, for them milky coffees are for breakfast, espresso all other times, they think you're weird if you order a milky coffee after a meal too
    – EdChum
    Feb 16, 2015 at 9:48
  • It would be great if you had some pointers / articles on that observation. If there are health issues, there are probably medical studies somewhere. But well, in this case, EdChum and Joshua nailed it. Feb 16, 2015 at 13:44

2 Answers 2


It is a cultural issue, not a health one.

Traditionally, rich, big coffee drinks like a cappuccino are drunk in the morning in Italy with breakfast whereas espresso is what is drunk in the afternoon. The reasoning for this is that you can take your time and savor a cappuccino in the morning because presumably you are not at work yet, but in the afternoon you are just in and out for a quick energy infusion on a 15 minute break and you don't have the time to drink anything but a shot or two of espresso.

In America people tend to do just the opposite or just drink what they want, when they want which can lead to some judgement when visiting Italy.

  • You might be right that it is only a cultural thing, which is a valid answer of course, but I also heard that the reason is that the milk is difficult to digest and this more likely cause problems with sleeping, if you drink milk coffee late. Interesting would be to hear if some experts can confirm this or not.
    – lihume
    Feb 16, 2015 at 14:04
  • @lihume Maybe, but that would be outside our scope. Feb 16, 2015 at 14:14
  • the ability to digest dairy varies greatly from person to person and even changes for a person over the course of their life
    – Justin C
    Feb 16, 2015 at 18:27
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    I saw a program where a Coffee shop in Italy will give you (Americans especially) a glass of milk when you ask for a Latte ;-) The Italians argue that its a "Caffé Latte" (Coffee with milk) XD
    – TungstenX
    Jul 16, 2015 at 11:42
  • My impression is that it is considered to be tending towards gluttony to have a milky coffee after a meal, whereas it is acceptable at breakfast because it is the meal. That said, all of my Italian relatives exclusively drink espresso, and coffee with milk was only for kids.
    – lithic
    Mar 21, 2017 at 10:21

Italians never drink cappucchino after a heavey meal like lunch and dinner, then they will have espresso. Caffelatte you have in the morning with your breakfast. Cappucchino you can also drink in the afternoon, let us say at 4 pm after your work.

  • Welcome Giorgio. You mention Italian habits. However, I still cannot see why they do it in your answer. Maybe you can help us by exposing it a bit more.
    – MTSan
    Feb 7, 2017 at 19:41

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