I had a good couple of visits to the Sallustiano area of Rome, and still have lots of other cafes to visit and review. The Surma Caffè was definitely an interesting one. I read on the outside that it was a café and well, thought cool. Actually calls itself a ‘Caffè’, and then had a nice plastic ‘Biondi Caffè’ sign outside it’s doors. I said, hell, even if it’s crap, at least they care about serving some kind of Java in it’s premises. So I walked in. What a cool experience. Straight out of the 1980s. All dark paned mirrors, red vinyl walls and stuff, lots metallic tubing, and all colludes to make it try to look futuristic but proper. It turns out that it’s also a lunch place, so they have a table in the back with more room for all the govt. folk dead tired of sitting on their asses all day doing nothing to go and have a good laugh. The ‘Surma’ part is an Indian-Pakistani (sorry for my ignorance!) but it’s got an Indian styled kitchen, and you walk in there and you get a deep and full whiff of curry smell. The staff is super chill and hospitable, and the whole environment in there very relaxed and contrasts very oddly, but fun, with the décor.
This is what I got served:
Presentation: Nice clean cup. On the mark. All in order. It’s punchy white sheen was good. No water was offered, but the barista very nicely offered it to others without flinching when they asked for it.
Temperature of Cup: It was good, not boiling hot as in many places here. It was good, warm, not too terrible.
Quantity: Solid one ounce espresso. Nothing jazzy nor fancy. Probably a ‘ristretto’ in the US.
Temperature: It was warmer than I imagined from the cup. Nothing bad either, just borderline.
Volume/Consistency: It was thin, not enough coffee particles in the water, and went down too watery. It was not necessarily runny because the crema was decent, it added a sense of smoothness to it. But still nothing memorable, nor particularly distinct.
Crema: It was a coffee study on Ying-Yang. Too overextracted as you can see, had the barista stopped about 2 seconds earlier, it could have been a better shot. But as such it wasn’t. The crema was rather persistent, and helped to conceal the thinness of the drink.
Odor: Dark charred death in a damned innocent white cup. Nothing to blame the barista, but the roaster!
Taste: It was quite bitter, almost an explosion leading to rancidness. It was in the afternoon when I had this, and it wasn’t the best way to unwind. Rather, a kick in the face to get your ass working again. So I guess I had it at the wrong time o’ day.
Overall: It was normal. Presentation was good, temp. good, all decent, and was a normal mid to lower end Roman coffee. Nothing less, nothing more.
The setup: The espresso machine was a fun lipstick red Gaggia, with a F6 Fiorenzato grinder. The coffee is by the East Rome based Biondi Caffè. They are decent roaster that is executed with a large range of results. Sometimes excellent other times so poorly you wonder if it’s the same crud in the porta filter.
Surma Caffè – Bar Tavola Calda
Via Flavia 66
Tel. 06 4542 1619