Rating: Standard, mid end Roman coffee
The Strabbioni Bar Caffè, whose name makes me think of ‘stra-buoni’ or super good in Italian is very nice, quaint, old-styled café. It’s got a tradition of serving coffee a certain way, and from the date on the entrance (see the pic below, ‘1888), it’s been doing its thing in Rome for quite some time! I don’t like to read up on places before going in, as I like the coffee to speak for itself. When I walked in it was packed with folk having their break, and the think I kept on hearing over and over was the question ‘con panna’? I.e., with whipped cream? So that’s the specialty, to serve their espressi with a touch of whipped cream, like a macchiato, but a bit richer. Next time I go in, I’ll try it.
This is what I got after saying a clear ‘no!’ to the question:
Presentation: I got nice gleaming white cup. Sharp edged, and perky. I liked it. I liked the fact that no label was on it, so it was a good start. I was asked about the ‘panna’ and wasn’t offered water. It was given to others very kindly after they had specifically asked for it.
Temperature of Cup: Sizzling damned hot! I guess you need it this hot to instantly have the whipped cream fuse with the coffee no? I hope so at least!
Quantity: The cup was super small, and the shot, smaller. It was nice, to the point. Probably a good 15ml or something short like that.
Temperature: Even after waiting a while, the magical substance was still super hot!
Volume/Consistency: Like a story who’s ending you’ve already seen coming all along, the espresso was thin, near transparent in consistency. Watery. A bit raspy, as if some of the grinds somehow made it through that filter and into the cup.
Crema: It was a bit darker than in the photo, persistent, and not altogether showing deep signs of over extraction. It didn’t add to the experience of the espresso, except in staying out of harms way and being anonymous.
Odor: Faint whiff of charred doom. That’ll wake you up!
Taste: Sharp, bitter, nothing extra ordinary. It needed the whipped cream to transform it into a pastry-like drink. As such it wasn’t rancid and neither uber-acidic or bitter.
Overall: In its entirety, it was a straight middle of the road affair. It left me yearning for some substance and I would have probably had it, had it been accompanied by some sugar bomb or whipped cream that was available in the caffe.
The setup: I couldn’t get to seeing the machine very well as it was placed perpendicular to the bar, and there wasn’t a way to really reach around and take a good photo of it. It looked like it was a Royal Espresso machine, or some old La Cimbali. The grinder, no ideal. Probably a Mazzer of some generation. The coffee turned out to be Marziali Caffè. And given that Marziali is uber-sharp and bitter, the baristas did a decent job toning it down a lot. So not as bad as it could have been.
Here's a nice picture of the Caffè con panna
Pasticceria Bar Caffè Strabbioni
Sceto 09 S.R.L.
Via Serio Tullio 2A
Tel. 06 487 3965