I cannot tolerate bad coffee, even on vacation. Unfortunately, coffee in Italy is not just heavenly espresso after heavenly espresso. Luckily Venice has a long history of coffee bars (and is even home to the oldest coffee house in Europe). There are even a few places serving specialty coffee in La Serenissima if you are looking for the best coffee in Venice.
There are long standing coffee traditions throughout Italy, but there is a good chance that the Italian peninsula’s love affair with caffè started in Venice. The city has a long history as a major trading port, connecting Europe with the Middle East and Asia. This strategic location facilitated the importation of goods, including coffee beans. As early as the 16th century, Venetians were exposed to coffee through their bustling trade connections, and this led to the cultivation of a coffee-drinking tradition. It seems that trade relations with the Ottoman Empire played a significant role in introducing coffee to the city.
You don’t need to know the history of coffee in Venice to enjoy a cup. Depending on where you find yourself (or how many canals you are willing to cross) there are several bars where you can find a great cup of coffee. These range from classic pastry shops, speciality coffee stops, local roasters, and gilt high-end cafes. Here are my favorite places to get coffee in Venice.
- Torrefazione Cannaregio: Located in the Cannaregio district (which is my personal favorite part of an already beloved city), Torrefazione Cannaregio is a popular coffee roastery and café that has been around since 1930. They specialize in sourcing and roasting high-quality beans. I also love that they have a few seats and tables along the water (but be warned that this is not the most walled in canal in case you are visiting with kids). There is also lovely seating inside. This is where I pick up beans to bring home, as well.
- Caffé del Doge: With several locations throughout Venice, including near St. Mark’s Square, Caffé del Doge is known for its exceptional coffee. They meticulously select and blend their coffee beans, so you are guaranteed a perfect cup. The café is often busy but the baristas can guide you through the different varieties and brewing methods. I slightly prefer the Cannaregio location because it is closer to the train station and somehow quieter even though there is limited seating. However, I always go to the Rialto location after walking through the Rialto Market.
- Caffé Florian: The prices for a coffee at Caffé Florian strike directly to the heart. Situated in the iconic St. Mark’s Square, Caffé Florian is one of the oldest coffee houses in the world, dating back to 1720. It is renowned for its elegant ambiance, live music, and impeccable service. There is almost always a line out the door at Florian’s – but you can often squeeze by if you simply want to sip a cup of coffee at the counter of the bar in the back. However, part of the allure of Caffe Florian is the setting: the sumptuously decorated interior or the stunning outdoor tables on the square. So it can be worth sucking it up and pay 13 euro for a coffee to sit down. (Though to be totally honest, I usually get the indulgent hot chocolate as a treat and to make the cost seem more worth it to me).
- Pasticceria Tonolo: If you want to opposite experience to Florian’s, try Tonolo. The little pastry shop is far away from the crowds and has zero seating. But you can still cozy up to the bar for some amazing sweets while sipping a pretty, dainty cup of espresso. The espresso cups are so pretty! And the pleasant acidity of the coffee is the perfect complement to the sweet chocolate cakes they are known for.
Remember: prices in Venice tend to be higher than in Rome or Florence, so this is not the place you will find 1 euro coffees. However, you can always sip at the counter rather than asking for a seat if you want to pay less. Table service is always more expensive than coffee at the bar – sometimes exceptionally so.
And while it is always the right time for coffee, when in Venice you might note that it is acceptable to switch to a spritz by late morning time! You do you.
Looking for great coffee further south? Here is where to find the best coffee in Rome.