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Dec 29, 2011 11:18 AM

Best espresso Rome

I did a search and was surprised to not find this already, perhaps I did not go far enough back. If so, perhaps a revisit is necessary.

I am looking for the best espresso/cappuccino in Trastevere and in central Rome, or anywhere it is worth going. I am a self professed coffee snob and cannot wait for the coffee in Italy. I only drinks, caps, or macchiatos.

I have been told about some of the nuances of ordering, ie. no cappuccinos after noon. Any other tips would be helpful.

Also my SO hates coffee (how have we survived?!), will he have any options for tea or should we pack some to make at the B&B in the morning?

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  1. Forget the afternoon "no joe rule." I have ordered cappucino all day long and love it and never had a sneer directed at me by a server. I could care less what others might sniff about.

    As for the SO, why not opt for hot chocolate? Available widely and widely treasured throughout Rome (esp if the hot cocoa is Venchi - excellent product, buy a bag and bring some home!). The SO could also simply order a Pellegrino or a mineral water with gas and lollygag with you.

    Personally, I am not a fan of the well-known pit stops by the Pantheon. Tazza is too "snug" and frantic for me, I don't relish standing at the bar armpit to armpit. Guide books say otherwise. Sant'eustachio, the other overhyped place, adds a shot of sugar as a "secret ingredient." Uh huh, that just ain't to my liking, let alone the tourist hordes jammed into the little shop. But just steps across the way is Camelloni which serves good expressi and cappucini without the hullabaloo. Plus, you can sit outside on a nice day in five or six tables there which makes for a nice stop in the Pantheon area.

    Perhaps the nicest place to stop and sip, albeit expensive, is on a lovely pedestrian piazza at Ciampini (Piazza San Lorenzo in Lucina). Ciampini has very good gelato, a sizeable light menu of snacks and sandwiches and plenty of non-coffee options that will be to your SO's liking. Plus heat lamps outside if there is a chill in the air. Beware: you pay considerably more for your beverage when you sit than you would standing and sipping at the counter.

    My favorite, though, is Cafe Brazil on via Serpenti. How they manage to crank out such excellent cappucini and expressi year after year is beyond me. But they do. And they sell packets of Venchi cocoa (there is a Venchi store between Spagna and the Corso that sells cups of delicious hot cocoa along with the products, get the location online or from the hotel).

    1 Reply
    1. re: wristband

      thanks @wristband, less crowded/touristy is great! when you say more expensive if you sit, how much more?

      shot of sugar?! not cool! if my coffee needs sugar it is either over roasted or the milk has been oversteamed (burnt)

      SO would be OK with hot chocolate as long as it is not too dark, I on the otherhand would be all over a dark cup of hot chocolate. Will definitely visit Venchi!!

      What are the best coffee beans to bring home as gifts (and for self)? Do a lot of cafes roast their own?

    2. Everyone has a different opinion on coffee, so you will just have to decide for yourself. Drink cappuccino any time except directly after a meal. It's not a nuance, it's general practice. When you order a cappuccino, you can specify if you want it boiling hot, not too hot, not too much foam, lot of foam. Or you can just drink what they give you, which is what I do. The standards are pretty high here.

      1 Reply
      1. re: mbfant

        certainly meant no offense wrt sugar in coffee, that is the way I judge a great espresso vs. ok.

        what are your favorite places @mbfant?

      2. Of all the places we have had espresso in Rome, the best was Sant 'Eustaccio, on the recommendations of some Italian friends. Unlike wristband, I found the place to be very pleasant and not crowded. If you want to sit there are tables outside that offer great people-watching. We stopped there a couple of times and there was never any sugar in our espresso or cappuccino.

        1 Reply
        1. re: ekc

          You might want to check that last point. SE does indeed pop a shot of sugar to their drinks. Not just my opinion - a quick check on the web will unearth their "secret.' But, hey, if you had a lovely time and it was unfrazzled, wonderful to hear!

        2. Except for a rare case (Caffe della Pace), I have never had bad coffee in Rome. For central Rome, I go for Tazza d'Oro. True it can be crowded and except for a couple of benches, no seating but the coffee is some of the best. Terrific macchiato. Closed by early evening. Since most places serve good coffee, for me, ambience becomes very important. For that, I like La Caffettiera, especially an afternoon macchiato taken with their rhum babas. Sant'Eustachio has its following but I have never been taken with the ambience and the selling of their 'souvenirs'. Unless they have recently stop their "secret', there is always a hit of sugar on the bottom before they fill the cup. If one does not want the sugar, there is never a problem, just request before they make it. The above mentioned Camelloni on the same square is just as good without all the fanfare.
          wristband also recommended Caffe del Brasile which was our morning coffee stop when we rented a nearby apartment couple years ago. Excellent coffee but not much on ambience (very low key) and a bit out of the way, a little west of the historic center.
          In Trastevere, try the funky Bar San Calisto and Ombre Rosse for people watching.
          Coffee is inexpensive standing up, therefore, as a self professed coffee snob, try them all and make your own judgement.

          1. my favorite coffee in Rome is at Sciascia Caffè (Via Fabio Massimo 80/a, Prati). you can also find excellent coffee at Caffè Parana' in Piazza dei Cinquecento next to Stazione Termini