Well, if you’re a tourist to Rome and inevitably going to have to pass through the right of initiation with quenching your curiosity and going to Caffè Sant’Eustachio, there’s good news in store for you. I had, like many folk, gone to this legendary café. But always left a little disappointed. After doing my review of this place I realized that I don’t like it at all, and it’s too much hype. But why be happy now? We’ll just across the street from it, there’s a rickety looking place that is quite non descript, except that it looks like any standard mid 2000s hodpodge Roman café and it’s called Caffè e Caffè. Yup there are tables outside and some few tables inside. Well… it is one of the best traditional Neapolitan styled espressos I’ve had in all of Rome. Period. Before the Christmas period I happened to be in the neighborhood and said, well, let me go see the new café that had opened up a few years ago, in the place of the other historic locale who’s name now unfortunately escapes me. We’ll they had closed down a few years ago and a nice white clad trendy café had opened up with the same name in it’s place. It was decked with a super cool gleaming 4 group lever machine, but it was more a restaurant. Well… guess what, it’s closed! And now replaced by some other food thing. But whatever, I saw this locale on the opposite of Sant’Eustacchio and thought I’d give it a try.
This is what they served me:
Presentation: Check it out. Beautiful, simply amazing. A fat squat and broad mouthed espresso cup, just like the best of Naples. This placed on top of a napkin, so that the little dribble of coffee that you see running down the left of it won’t get your suit dirty (there’s a government office just around the corner). And of course, a spoon to sport if you need to have your day’s worth of sugar in a cup. And yup, a cup of sparkling water served without asking. Man. This espresso was beautiful!
Temperature of Cup: Warm, good, not overly hot, which is surprising given that it’s a Neapolitan styled coffee, and there cups come boiling hot.
Quantity: Short full shot, not double, nor ristretto. Excellent!
Temperature: It was warm, but not burnt. It was very good temperature. Probably 93 C or somewhere in the middle ballpark range.
Volume/Consistency: Thick, creamy, full bodied oil content, and a thickness like hot chocolate almost. Syrupy, a real mouthful and the oils from the espresso coated the entirety of the mouth as soon as you let one sip in. Amazing.
Crema: One of the nicest cremas I’ve seen in Rome. Almost tiger striping here, dark brown to almost black, and then on one side there where minute serriations that showed so much oil. It was thick, slick and oily as hell. What a piece of art!
Odor: Dark deep roasted coffee smell. Not third wave specialty, and not repugnant, but I’ll take it.
Taste: It was bitter start, very tart, not sharp and not rancid. It was a crescendo of tart bitterness that mixed very quickly with a chocolaty and thick almost sweet syrup sensation. It had a finish of nutty deep bitterness that was very pleasing. Nothing outside the gamut of dark roasted coffee, but it was simply so good.
Overall: It was, hands down, the best Neapolitan styled coffee I’ve had in Rome. It was among the very best ‘italian’ espresso’s I’ve had here, and hell, I really can’t wait to go back and see if this was a miraculous ‘golden’ shot or if it’s the norm here. It was one of the most delightful thick full-bodied espressos I’ve had in a long while in Rome. What a wonderful surprise to find a really excellent coffee right in front of Caffè Sant’Eustachio!
The setup: They were using what any respectable Neapolitan café would have, a La San Marco lever espresso machine. The grinder was a 1980s looking Faema, while the coffee was a new one to me. It was Caffè Santa Cruz, a roaster close to Salerno (south of Naples) that was superbly executed here. Very nice to find them out and eager to return to this place to try it again.
Caffè et Caffè
Piazza Sant’Eustachio 50