Coffee accompanied by water: the inseparable pairing at the bar

Acqua con il caffè: l’accoppiata inseparabile al bar

A glass of water served alongside a coffee cup is a much more ancient tradition than one would imagine. The introduction of this well-known custom was created to bring awareness to the experience both to the customer and to the manufacturer. Let’s find out together if one should have a glass of water before or afterwards the coffee tasting. 

Wake up early in the morning, shower, have a quick breakfast and head straight to work, still tired and dozing without the usual morning coffee cup. The habitués of this ritual will quickly feel the lack of their coffee fix and, in order to gear up for the long list of work calls or get through a pile of papers, they will not give up a cup of espresso at the bar. A coffee served at the counter or at the table is usually accompanied by its inseparable glass of water, which has had many of us doubting our etiquette at the coffee bar: “Which one goes first? Water or coffee?”. Let’s try to bring clarity into this puzzling debate.   

Etiquette, good manners for drinking coffee

“Sit up straight at the table”. As children we were taught to behave properly before, during and after the meal and the same is to be considered valid as for the ritual of coffee. An actual proper etiquette is to be maintained both during the service and the tasting as to make the experience a pleasant one. The bon ton of coffee of a well educated client consists of the following steps:

  • mixing the coffee from the top to the bottom (even if is taken without sugar) as to disperse the flavors;
  • placing the coffee spoon to the right;
  • holding the small coffee cup between thumb and index;
  • bringing the cup to the lips and not the other way around;
  • sipping without making weird noises.


Water and coffee at the bar, the order one would not expect 

The etiquette establishes a proper and exact order required to drink a glass of water served alongside a cup of coffee at the bar. The correct approach consists in taking the water before proceeding with the tasting. Believe it or not, in this case water is not to be considered as a palate cleanser needed to wash away the taste of coffee, but it is taken as to accentuate the fruity, sweet or spice notes. However, if one finds themselves in need of drinking a glass of water afterwards, it means the product might have been manufactured with unripe coffee beans therefore giving the sensation of dryness in the mouth.

When was the tradition of water and coffee at the bar first born

The custom of coffee accompanied by a glass of water is a tradition first started around 1700 inside coffee roasteries. In these particular settings, which are to be considered the precursors of coffee bars, different blends of coffee were roasted and mixed with mastery to then be sold to the clients after the tasting, and they were always accompanied by a glass of water. Following this approach, the taster’s experience was made to be an unique moment, while for the coffee master, it became a constructive moment to receive feedback from the customer, which would be then useful to further improve the final product.

The glass of water served alongside coffee at the bar

If you are left wondering what kind of water is to be served side by side with the coffee, well, at least as far as this aspect is concerned, the choice is in the hands of the customer, who will be able to choose between sparkling or natural, cold or room temperature water. A different requirement, obvious for many, but not for every barista, is that the glass of water is to be included in the service and it should not have an extra cost added to the service.

Thus, a glass of water served with our coffee at the bar, brings added value to the experience and is not just a habit of your trusted barista or customer. This gesture made with awareness (hopefully) by the barista helps to make the coffee tasting experience an enjoyable one.

Mikah coffee since 1984 has a culture of espresso, which is rooted in tradition, without forgetting innovation. Our blends in ground coffee, whole beans or capsules (Bellini, Rossino, Vivaldo, Arabica, Natura 10 and Piccanto) guarantee to our dealers and business partners in 44 countries the excellence of Italian espresso coffee. For years we have believed in a careful work, which is based on the selection of the best coffee plantations, on the correct production and roasting to meet all needs and live an experience that does not require the use of water at the end of the tasting.

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