When it comes to coffee, the Italians pretty much have it down pat. Like fashion, food and football, coffee is an art, a matter of national pride, and a daily ritual which is taken very, very seriously.
It is actually quite hard to find a bad coffee in Rome. What is more difficult, however, is determining which is the city’s best. Ask the locals and you’ll discover that there seems to be two distinct leaders in the coffee stakes, both located remarkably close to the Pantheon in central Rome, and both just as frequently declared the home of Rome’s best espresso.
So, before you leave the Eternal City, head for the Pantheon, prepare for the rush, and lean on the bar in at least one of these places. Or “make it a double,” and lean on both bars!
Sant Eustachio – Il Caffé
Piazza S. Eustachio, 81
It is no exaggeration to say that Il Caffé is an institution. Having been around since the days of Mussolini, this tiny café has had a loyal following for over 71 years. It has earned a virtually unmatched reputation for having the best coffee in Rome and has become a mecca for caffeine fiends from around the world, as well as an essential cultural experience even for those not attuned to the pleasures of downing espresso.
One of the specialties is the Grancaffé: a delectably powerful double espresso with a lightly whipped, sugary froth which stays in the bottom of your cup and provides a perfectly sweet ending to the espresso experience. The other is the Grancappuccino, which is equally as strong but delivers the kick in a long, hot and creamy brew. Seriously good!
Be warned though: if you choose to have your coffee at the tables in the delightful little piazza, you’ll pay almost twice the price. So, save a few euros and do what the locals do: stand, lean, and shoot it down!
Getting there: Piazza S. Eustachio is on the south-western side of the Pantheon. From behind the Pantheon, follow Via della Pallombella west until you wander into the piazza. For more information, visit http://www.santeustachioilcaffe.it/.
Tazza D’Oro – La Casa del Caffé
Via Degli Orfani, 84
This place, literally named “Cup of Gold”, unabashedly declares itself to have the best coffee in town, and only those who frequent Sant Eustachio are likely to disagree.
Standing on a charming little corner in front of the Pantheon, the Tazza D’Oro has been around since 1946 and is still going strong. In addition to serving a potent, smooth shot of caffeine goodness, which is guaranteed to keep you primed for a full day of sight-seeing, Tazza D’Oro offers good deals for lunch and dinner, and serves up decent pizzas and salads for a remarkably reasonable price.
Getting there: Tazza D’Oro is on the north-eastern side of the Pantheon. From Piazza Dell Rotonda, which is directly in front of the Pantheon, head east along Via Dei Pastini. You can’t miss it.
For more information: www.tazzadorocoffeeshop.com.