Welcome to the country that gave the world its language for coffee; espresso, cappuccino, macchiato are all Italian words! In Italy, coffee is more than a beverage. Here, cafe (the bar itself) and caffè (coffee) culture is a daily ritual, the meeting place of any neighbourhood, a mainstay of daily life in Rome.
You will find Romans standing at the bar having espresso and cornetto on their way to work or you might find them seated al tavolo – at the table, spending hours in the sunshine with a newspaper, a deck of cards, chatting with friends and of course: drinking coffee. If in North America a caffeinated beverage is about perking you up, perhaps it can be said that in Italy a coffee is about settling down: grounding you in your day, digesting after a meal, relaxing into the flow of Italian life.
In Rome there are many unique coffee experiences to be had. As your ItalianISSIMO guide to all things exceptional in il bel paese, we are here to present you with a few of our favourite spots to sample this quintessential beverage while on a Roman holiday.
Sant’Eustachio: original roasts and ancient Rome
Caffè Tazza D’Oro: a global perspective
Located squarely in the historic centre of Rome and findable by their iconic sign’s typography, Antigua Tazzadoro has had a singular image since it was created in 1944. The caffè esteems the farmers and workers who produce the almighty coffee bean and they are represented on every cup of espresso served for the last 75 years. The beautiful store also functions as a mini museum, displaying artifacts from the roasting process and their own history.
The high quality of the raw material is everything at Tazzadoro, made clear in their motto: “I come from around the world, I go around the world”. It is a wonder that this global ethos was in play so long ago! With delicious blends, their coffee is in high demand and they export their signature beans throughout Europe, America, Australia and Asia; a taste of Rome on four continents. What is most important of course, is the taste and a Tazzadoro caffè is buonISSIMO!
Caffè Perù: where old is new
A moment away from Piazza Farnese and Campo di Fiori, you’ll discover a coffee shop that seems like the meeting place for all Romans. You are as likely to find Rome’s glitterati taking a pause from shopping on Via di Monserrato as you are to see the priests emerging from the nearby chiesa or students sipping coffee over textbooks. The unpretentious, neighbourhood spot is actually one of the oldest bars in the centro but Caffè Perù’s central location is not the only reason we adore it. The coffee is smooth and creamy, a perfect espresso. The caffè honours its past and its neighbours as well.
When the property was restored a decade ago, the partners bridged the history of the property with coltISSIMO artistic expression. Overseen by local painter Giancarlino Benedetti Corcos, the bohemian expression of the building was developed with the help of local tattoo artists, writers, set designers, architects, artisans, intellectuals and artists. Full of contemporary art that references the past, Caffè Perù articulates exactly why Rome is called the Eternal City. All while serving delicious espresso!
Panella: the oldest machine in Italy and a decadent treat
Founded in 1929 by Augusto Panella, this spot is known foremost as a bakery that has been passed down through generations of the Panella family. There are two notable coffee connections that make the Esquilino neighborhood spot worth a visit. Panella boasts a coffee machine that is made by the oldest company in Italy: Victoria Arduino (it is also spectacularly beautiful!) In 1905, Pier Teresio Arduino improved upon an existing steaming system to invent a machine that had the capability of producing several hundred espresso every hour. He named his invention after his wife, Victoria and changed the history of coffee culture forever. In addition to making cafe from this bellISSIMO piece of Italian design history, Panella serves their espresso with cremina – a proprietary recipe that is neither zabaglione nor cream but is a decadent replacement for your standard sugar!
The best of the rest and how to order your coffee.
An honourable mention goes to the beautiful courtyard of Hotel de Russie and the Stravinskij bar where the talented bartenders shake up one of our favourite espresso martinis in town! And for a modern coffee experience, venture to the neighbourhood of Ostiense (only slightly outside of the historic centro) where we would recommend a visit to Marigold to sip or purchase the curated beans of their Chicchi by Marigold coffee program.
With all of these options, you might need a little advice on what coffee to order! Discover the ISSIMO guide for How to Order Coffee.