Rating: Third-Wave establishment
Funny how things are, but a little less than a few weeks ago a local third wave coffee enthusiast here in Rome told me about the Pergamino Caffè. It had just opened up and was brewing coffee in all crazy kinds of ways. I had intentions of going there with him when I got notice that the Pergamino Caffè was having a grand opening (happened yesterday, 19 Sunday June 2016). The place on the Piazza Risorgimento, right next to the Vatican (and those that are going to go to the museum should stop by here before standing in the crazy long line). It is a small mono-locale, with open brick interior. A long sit down counter against the left wall, and then of course a very long bar, the setup is very impressive and we’ll see it below. Either way, the grand opening was great, tons of coffee tasting all on the house. There were three baristas cranking out the coffee and two or more waiters that were bringing out food and other things. As you'll see, it was packed.
So, in order not to break tradition, I asked for an espresso to start:
Presentation: Here it is. After I asked for the espresso the barista gave me two choices, I could choose either from either of these two coffees, see below:
Either an Arabica Costa Rica San Rafael Tarrazu, or an Arabica Mexico Altura Luz Supremo.
I went for the Costa Rica first, because this is what I had at the Tram Depot Caffè and it was one of the better cups of coffee I’ve had. Either way, the espresso came with a glass of water immediately, and even though it was ram packed in the café. The barista pushing out the espressi was doing his best to keep everybody informed on what they were drinking and to keep up the best form.
Temperature of Cup: The cup was on the warm side, but not scalding, good temperature.
Quantity: In this barrel shaped cup it was a short espresso, on the ristretto side for the USA, just under average here, so I was glad. Shorter and more compact is better, IMO.
Temperature: The coffee was perfect temperature, I could really taste all the flavors in there.
Volume/Consistency: It was very light, soft, silky and not heavy in any way. It had a very mild oil profile to it that again, proved to be very delicate and light.
Crema: The crema was light in color, not overextracted and thin and very slick. It is a very different crema than you get when you get the Robusta blends in most Roman cafes. It was persistent and its smoothness seemed to make the cup bright throughout the drinking experience.
Odor: There was a faint and delicate odor, but it wasn’t of charred beans, but rather a wispy lighter roast coffee smell. I was expecting the odor to be a bit brighter, fruitier but it wasn’t that complex.
Taste: It was sharp and softly bitter up front, and then opened up very nicely. The delicateness of the consistency made one find some darker tones of caramel and sweetness creep out. The finish was clean and crisp, and yet the darker roast of these beans left a smooth bitter sweet after taste that was just great.
Overall: I purposely tried this first as I wanted to see how it compared with my previous experience of it, and I wasn’t disappointed. This is the blend that most closely approaches what the regular Romans would be expected to have. It is a punchy, robust, but still quite subtle espresso that opens up in your mouth so some very nice sweeter flavors. Just great!
Since I was in the mood to give everything a try, then I went for the Mexico Alta Luz Supremo. Yes, this is what I got:
Here I’ll give you simply my summary of it- it was great, by far the more fruity and lighter of the two.
The Crema was a bit darker, a bit different in consistency and look. It was heavier, cakier and persistent. It contributed to the taste in a very different way, it provided a tangy touch to the drink.
On tasting it one really felt the difference of consistency and flavor. It was very bright, very yellow in hue- a lot more acidic but in a very positive way. I could make out more citric flavors, and almost a hint of lemon in the bitter bite it gave me. It was nice, tangy - buttery, and sweetly punchy. By far my favorite of the two. And yet, for a traditional Roman, this would be simply off the charts for their taste.
Then I went in for the drip coffee:
I must admit that I don’t recollect what beans I tried, as the barista was very clear in telling me. From the taste I think they were serving up this particular round the Costa Rica. It was as expected from a drip. Very smooth, very warm, and very balance. No rancidness anywhere, and that round buoyant flavor that comes with a drip coffee. I will admit that by this time my taste buds where a bit fried from two very nice espressi.
But what the hell I thought, I saw that they had cold brewed on tap and I asked for a cup. This is what I got:
And man, I will say, this is the drink that stole the whole show for me! They do all the cold brewing in house and when I asked for the cup the barista explained to me how they prepare it the day before and it goes through 15-17 hours of brewing, etc. If I remember correctly, they were using a Brazilian coffee (Cerrado 17/18) by the same roaster. This cold brew was literally amazing. So much so that I had another full glass. It was super smooth, thick, and yet so very refreshing and sweet. The finish gave way to a caramel sweetness that lingered in my mouth for the rest of the afternoon. I’ve had cold brew coffee from a variety of places in Los Angeles and San Francisco, and this variety literally kicks ass. It was great!
Now, to close this review off, let’s see the setup:
They were brewing the espresso with- two vintage refurbished Faema’s E61 based with nicely made copper backs (you can see one of them above). Nice to see old pieces being put to good use. Then they had at least three beautiful Ceado coffee grinders that were constantly grinding fresh coffee for every espresso and drip coffee.
Then, look here, we have two different stations, on the left was a siphon brewer and an Aero press,
then on the right, with the other Faema, we had another siphon with two Hario V60 drip coffee stations (with the scales beneath).
The coffee being brewed here was form the North Italian roaster Parma-based Lady Café. I had tasted them before at the Tram Depot (in the Piramide area), and was really glad to find somebody brewing their stuff. At Pergamino Caffè you can find quite a lot different based Lady Café roasts for sale, and I picked up a bag. I’ll do a revew of it in the coming days.
Overall, really a great and important addition to the budding Third Wave culture here in Rome. So now, along with Marjani Coffee Roaster in the EUR area, the Rinaldi Caffè in Ciampino, there’s another great place to try some very good light roasted coffee.
Equo Grano S.R.L.
Piazza Risorgimento 7