Local Tips: Stops for the best coffee on the way to Italy

Is there really the best coffee just across the Italian border? Yes! Especially lovers of espressi and cappuccini find it easier to get delicious coffee on the Italian side of the main holiday route. After trying out many cafes and rest stops over the past few years, we reveal our spots for the best coffee, espresso and cappuccino along the Brenner motorway!


Tip 1: Loacker & Testa Rossa in the Brenner Outlet Center

The Brenner Outlet Center is ideal for driving towards Italy: It is beautifully situated at the highest point of the Brenner motorway in the little village of Brennero (exit: “Brennero”). In addition to a number of brand shops, there are also a few cafés and restaurants that can be recommended after our many visits as follows:

  • Best, strong espresso & cappuccino: “Testa Rossa” at the main entrance on the upper floor
  • Mild espresso & cappuccino as well as delicious desserts and meals: “Loacker” on the upper floor at the other end of the center (see title picture).

Both in summer and in the snowy winter landscape, there is probably no better spot for a break than the Brenner Outlet Center, which is also open on all Sundays and most public holidays.

test rossa caffe

Inexpensive, delicious coffee with a dream panorama at Testa Rossa

Tip 2: Lanz in the Plessi Museum

Our second coffee stop is almost directly opposite: The Plessi Museum houses a permanent exhibition and a small café by “Lanz”. In addition to regional delicacies, there are also outrageously good coffee drinks: These come from the roaster Julius Meinl and were prepared very professionally and quickly by the barista during our visits. By the way: You can also charge your e-car here for free!

cappuccino lanz

Delicious cappuccino while the e-car is charging at Lanz at the Plessi Museum

How do you recognize real Italian coffee?

Let’s summarize: Actually, good coffee, espresso and cappuccino depends on the way it is prepared. Before we give more specific tips, there is one Rule that every coffee layperson should observe: Real espresso (and therefore also good cappuccino or latte macchiato) comes from a portafilter machine. These machines prepare espresso in the traditional way. So it is important to make a distinction here: is there a portafilter machine in the café or an everyday fully automatic machine? Only with a portafilter machine and, if properly operated, is there a chance of delicious, hygienic, Italian coffee. You can recognize a portafilter machine quite simply:

siebtr%C3%A4ger vs vollautomat

Left: A portafilter machine, right: A fully automatic machine

These machines are rarely found in German motorway service stations, but are becoming more common in Austria and Italy. You can never go wrong with the Italian rest stops along the Brenner motorway such as “Hermes”, “Siriogrill” or “Autogrill”. Small rest stops that look “rancid” from the outside often have great, clean coffee. The prices for coffee on the Autobahn have also been stable and fair for years. It is therefore worthwhile simply trying out many rest stops apart from our tips!

How do you order the right coffee in Italian?

The German word “coffee” sounds like “caffè” in Italian and actually means espresso! The following tips should therefore be observed if you really want a German “coffee” (instead of a delicious espresso):

  • Un coffee = espresso, colloquial Of course you can also order “espresso”.
  • Un coffee ristretto = An extra strong espresso
  • cappuccino = 1/3 espresso, 2/3 milk. Many Italians are more than surprised when you order it after 12 noon
  • Coffee Americano = The German “coffee”! Consists of an espresso diluted with hot water. No classic filter coffee. In Italy it is drunk almost exclusively by tourists.
cappuccino siebtr%C3%A4ger vs vollautomat

Cappuccino – on the left from the portafilter machine, on the right from the Wasser-Plörre fully automatic machine

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