Best coffees in Milan, Venice or Florence?
We have a week in Italy and as well as seeking out the cicheti and pasta and vino, we'd really love to seek out some of the best coffee houses. Can anyone recommend local roasteries (hopefully where we can buy whole beans to take home), little bars where you stand/drink/run, unforgettable cafes...? We'll be staying in the centre of the city in Milan, Venice and Florence but willing to seek them out if they're a fair walk!
In general, Venice has very good coffee (can't compare to Rome or Trieste) but there are not many roasters left in Venice proper. Torrefazione Caffe Costarica in Cannaregio is the only one that I know of that still roast their coffee on site and the quality is very good. the above mentioned Caffe del Doge in San Polo is probably our favorite morning cafe in Venice. The coffee is excellent and since it is located on a side calle, it caters mostly to locals around the Rialto market and neighborhood workers. The caffe is geared toward standup service as the atmosphere is basic modern and the outside tables are nothing to speak of. The branch just off the Rialto bridge in Castello is more for sit down to relax but I am not big on the general frou frou atmosphere. They do have whole beans for sale but the roasting is down off site. There many many caffes that serve coffee from del Doge but the above two are the only ones actually own by the company. Avoid the 'famous' caffes right on the Piazza San Marco unless it is one of those 'must tourist experience' you are after. I wouldn't go too much out of the way seeking out coffee in Venice but to look for convenience and comfort. Some of our favorites and most are standup only are: Rosa Salva in San Marco, Marchini Time (also good pastries) in Castello, Ballarin and Boccolo in Cannaregio, Tonolo (great filled donuts and cream puffs and they bake a great Focaccia de Venezia) in Dorsoduro, Dersut in San Polo for sit down without paying sit down prices and to read the foreign language newspapers.
There’s so much good coffee in Rome that’s it hard to recommend. I assume that for you the coffee comes 1st, the atmosphere 2nd, and that you’re perfectly happy to stand at the bar and drink. With that in mind, here are my coffee countdowns in Rome:
7. Bar del Cappuccino, in the via Arenula, close to the river, if memory service me aright
(I was there 26 March last). They make a little design in the signature cappuccino cream topping; mine was an apple. Too cutsy for you? Well, you can’t complain about the cappucccio.
6. Cafffè Camerino (three f's) at the beginning of Via Arenula (Largo Argentina). I thank a famous Chowhounder for this recommendation
5. Caffe San Pietro, Via della Conciliazione, 40/42. In a part of the city where it’s hard to find a good meal, I was astonished by the fine expresso I drank here. Last 03 April my prior experience was confirmed.
4. Caffe Ciampini, Piazza S. Lorenzo in Lucina, 29. I love this place, both for cappuccino and for espresso.
2 & 3. Caffe Sant’Eustachio, Piazza di S. Eustachio, considered by some the ne plus ultra of coffee. It is indeed very good, my second favorite; just be sure to tell the barman that you don’t won’t sugar, or otherwise you’ll get sugar without asking. And they sell beans. Yet, frankly, the space is just too small for its fame, in which case, you’ll find, across the street, the Camillioni di Sant’Eustachio, Piazza di S. Eustachio 54; it’s bigger, less crowded, cheaper, and the coffee quite good.
1. Tazza d’Oro, via degli Orfani, 84 (at the Pantheon). You’ve come to Castle Corbenic, you’ve made it to the mystical city of Sarras, you’ve found The Holy Grail. And the altar ... I mean the bar, is long enough that you probably can get to the rail soon enough. Beans aplenty to take home.
If you’re interested in a sit-down café, I can recommend some of those in Rome also.
I thank Zerlina and PBSF for their Venice suggestions, a place where I’ve never found the coffee so good as in Rome. I’ll be there, I pray, next winter before sailing to Greece. I’ve found the sit-down café experience in Venice more like that in the posher cafés in Austria and Berlin.
As for Florence, I’d drink instead of coffee the outstanding chocolate at the the café across from the Palazzo Publico, called, Rivore. Otherwise for coffee try in the Piazza della Repubblica at the Caffè Concerto Paszkowski or the place next door, the name of which I’ve forgotten.
re: Sid Cundiff
At Bar del Cappucino, you generally only get a foam decoration if you ask for it or if you look (or sound) like a tourists. Americans get the apple, couples often get hearts...my favorite is a flower. It's a family run place patronized by people from the neighborhood and folks waiting for a bus outside.
I wish I could remember the name of the coffee bar near the Vittorio Emmanuele covered market...it was a hopping spot early in the AM, full of market shoppers.
RE: Florence & Riviore--the coffee can be ordered at the small green marble stand-up counter inside, allowing you to enjoy the nice atmosphere (and nice restrooms) for a pretty small fee.
Just an additional comment on Venice's famous Caffee Florian. The coffee is actually not bad and if one wants to experience the atmosphere without paying the outrageous price, the espresso at the standup counter is 2.5E (still expensive compare to the usual 0.85E). To get to the bar, just walk straight to the back through the entrance, past the cashier/souvenir stuff.
Too bad that Rome is not on the poster's agenda. Rome is coffee heaven and nothing can campare to Tazza D'Oro. One can smell the roasting. The deep brown wall is a testimony. Too bad they don't have tables and is close by 8pm. Trieste is not far behind.
In Milan the best place for a coffee or cappuccino + croissant probably is Saint Ambroeus (Corso Matteotti, close to Via Montenapoleone). It is quite expensive especially if you ask to be seated (which you should do if you really want to enjoy the relaxation of the place surrounded by rich old women and businessmen). Historical place.
Another historical place is Pasticceria Marchesi (Via Meravigli junction with Corso Magente). No tables. Great aperitivo (ask for "un marchesi").
In Florence there are 2 absolutely gems for your coffee, both in piazza della Repubblica, right in the city centre:
Paszkowski and Gilli, the coffee is really good but i prefear Paszkowski because you can take a little relax sitting in front of it with nice live music every evening
if you want to try another one, that gives you a nice coffee and a stunning overview on the Duomo i'll reccomend the roof garden at The Rinascente, if you look at the photo i've taken yesterday from their terrace you'll understand....
re: The Florentine
The Doge on Calle dei Cinque in Venice is certainly the place to go for a quick espresso but it is also surprisingly a good place to sit around and talk. Very good hot chocolate also. Have eaten breakfast there every day for months on end. For more atmosphere try the Frari across from the church. And, yes, for pastries Tonolo.