Last month three generations of my family set out to eat and drink our way around Bella Italia’s spectacular capital. Rome is synonymous with good coffee, an integral element of Italian culture with a rigid social etiquette. It is one of the last remaining nations to shun the ubiquitous styrofoam coffee-to-go, where Starbucks is yet to sit well with the locals, and ordering a Cappucino in the afternoon is likely to be met with a withering stare. Thus, where better to embark upon a search for the perfect blend than the Italian capital?
Navigating the rickety cobbles and infamously unforgiving motorists of Rome, we reached the unnervingly still Piazza Sant Eustacchio. Less than a two minute walk from the iconic pantheon, this charming square is quite literally tucked behind the only remaining fully intact roman ruin, yet is a perfectly calm oasis.
If all roads lead to Rome, then almost all of my coffee loving friends’ recommendations lead to Sant Eustacchio Il Caffe; home to what is reputedly the city’s champion cup of coffee.
The typically Italian custom of downing a black-as-midnight espresso standing at the bar means that the cafe itself rarely feels crowded, though there’s a distinctive buzz (perhaps a result of all that caffeine). We opted to recline in the sunshine, foregoing the bar in favour of a comfy perch on the terraza.
Note the prominent stag’s head atop the church overlooking the cafe’s terrace – it’s oddly un-roman, and has been adopted as the cafe’s logo and mascot.
The coffee was every bit as delectable as anticipated, smooth (and sweet – Beware!) with an unmistakeable frothiness that we put down to their “secret method” of brewing (they prepare the coffee behind a thick opaque screen, hidden from prying eyes). The creamy Chocolate con Panna was also dreamy; viscous dark chocolate topped with a dollop of oozy hand-whipped cream (it went down extremely well despite the 33 degree temperatures!).
The good news is, they stock their own blends of coffee (and a selection of snazzy crockery and engraved tea spoons..). Ironically, Marks & Spencers also currently stock this coffee as part of their “Best of..” series, for which they meticulously research the best regional products from around Europe.
If all you do in Rome is contemplate the wonders of life in the awesome Pantheon then teeter to Sant Eustachio for a strong doppio espresso, it will have been a trip well spent!