Rating: Standard, low-end Roman coffee
Still in the Sallustiano neighborhood of Rome, and a bit more than a street away from the Ministry of Economy and Finance you have the Gran Caffè Salandra. It’s an old school place. Lots of chocolates, pastries, and an air of 65 and over type of joint for those who want a touch of not over the top snobbery, but simply dignified clean and some what old-fashioned setting. Either way, it’s staff of all women really had the place rocking. Most cafes here in Rome are run buy angry baristas, all guys depressed with life and angry at their profession. When women tend to run bars, they’re happy, and simply having a good time. How’s that for being sexist? Well… I’m not making this crud up! It’s generally the case in what I’ve seen so far. Either way, the two women baristas had the crowd of about 10 guys who were having coffee in the palm of their hands. They had music going on, and one of the women was giving a little demonstration of how she danced. I literally walked into a party at this bar! After this went on for a good 5 minutes, the guys had to return to their job and I could see one guy trying to sweet talk one of the baristas (yeah the one in the center of the photo below). All left good tips, and all left with large smiles.
In the meantime, this is what one of the baristas served me:
Presentation: Nice clean tidy cup. Interesting boxy shape, not altogether displeasing. The spoon felt fake and rigid, as if it was just too out of touch. But it fit the context. The nice marble counter I really liked. No water offered, they were too busy laughing for any shenanigans of this kind.
Temperature of Cup: It was not super warm, but a bit too hot. I had to wait and enjoy the show while it cooled down.
Quantity: It was a solid espresso here in Rome, nothing short, nor excessive.
Temperature: The espresso was warmer than the cup, not good. I didn’t burn my tongue, but wasn’t happy.
Volume/Consistency: Thin, watery, light, runny. No oils in there from the coffee beans.
Crema: It was also very light, telling me that a) the temperature was not right for these breans, and b) the grinder is not set up correctly for the dose that was used. Too much water, not enough resistance in the porta filter.
Odor: Nope, what is that all about?
Taste: Well, if it wasn’t for the baristas, I think it would have tasted worse. It tasted of burnt coffee, really burnt coffee. That was about all I could fathom from this. It wasn’t necessarily uber rancid, but simply very burnt. So much so, that I caved into the temptation of putting in some ‘crema di caffè’ in my cup, and well… it did the trick!
Overall: It wasn’t a stellar espresso, it was poor, simply as that. Nothing more, nothing less. It wasn’t horribly executed, so I can’t say it was utter crap. But it wasn’t any good. Bottom line.
The setup: They were using a nice quite new Rancillio espresso machine, and like branded grinder. The coffee was the Roman based Moca Caffè, usually quite decent.
Gran Caffè Salandra
Via Antonio Salandra 36-38