Woman holding a cup of coffee
The Reason European Cafes Serve Shots Of Water With Their Coffee

Many visitors to Italy who are excited to order their first caffè find themselves surprised by the small glass of water that the barista sets down next to their espresso.

This gesture dates back to ancient coffee roasters who offered customers water to cleanse the palate. The practice has survived to modern-day cafes.

This method makes sense, as cafes want their coffee to be experienced at its most pure. Italians are also notoriously protective of traditions such as this one.

Most people today will drink the water before consuming their coffee to cleanse the palate, but others choose to drink it afterward to avoid having their mouths feel dry.

Note that drinking water after the coffee can be insulting to the cafe, as it implies the coffee was bad. Another popular practice is to sip water before and after the coffee.