Rating: Standard, surprisingly decent Roman coffee
The cafe Bar Baffo is right at the foot of Rome’s Trastevere train station. A look at its interior lets you see that this place sees a ton of traffic every day.
It’s got a really great selection of pastries, sandwiches and coffee. My impression is that this place is run by somebody who knows that serving quality, even to hundreds of tourists a day, pays in the long run. Its definitely not trashy. Instead, people are happy, fun and the place is clean. Let’s see what they serve.
Here’s what a ‘caffè’ gave me:
Presentation: No water offered, and straight up no-nonsense. Clean cup, the saucer belonged to a latte cup… so let’s see what the rest had in store.
Temperature of Cup: It was at room temperature, because of the amount of people in the place I didn’t see where the cup was pulled from. Not from the top of the espresso machine, that’s for sure.
Quantity: Very short espresso, very good. Surprised!
Temperature: Right temperature, I could drink it immediately.
Volume/Consistency: Not sirupy, nor watery, but quite strong. It was very decent consistency to quantity.
Crema: Initially I looked like it was quite on the thin side. But it was thick in the sense that it was persistent throughout the drinking of the espresso.
It’s got signs of life and oils!
Odor: I recall a dark, burnt coffee odor. Wasn’t anything close to a light grind, but at least smelled of fresh beans.
Taste: Very strong, but not rancid, nor overly cooked. Strong deep coffee taste, enhanced by the consistency of the espresso.
Overall: I was happily surprised at this espresso. It was very good for a train station, and for what I expected to be yet another run-of-the-mill crappy tourist coffee. If you look at the finished cup, it shows of an oil rich drink that has even percolated some grinds into its cup!
Well… a bit of a background story here. I visited this a few months before, actually in late 2014 and had fallen in love with their setup.
This was back in 2014:
If I’m not mistaken, these are beautiful ‘San Marco’ lever machines. They’re a beauty and man, a delight to have a coffee from them… yet when I had the espressos they produced, they were horrible!
This is what I had gotten back in 2014:
So that was the past. A horrible coffee being squeezed out of a machine with SO much potential! What a stupid waste of a beautiful machine I thought…
Now, to this current set up in 2015:
As you can see they’ve switched to modern semi-automatic Faemas. Decent choice, and of course, the water will be a lot cleaner than the lever machines, which are notorious for getting the tank water dirty with backwashed siphoned coffee… and making rancid coffee.
Yet something else also happened, they changed the coffee they were brewing. Before it was Caffè Selubba, which I haven’t been able to find any info on… and might be indicative that they were going out of business because of horrible coffee!
But now, with the switch in vendor (i.e. usually a ‘package deal’ coffee/machine combo), they proudly brew Caffè Vergnano. As you can see in the two different pictures of their 2014 vs 2015 setup, they even have lots of black ‘to go’ paper cups with the Caffè Vergnano logo on it. They’re definitely catering to the US/International tourists asking for ‘to-go’ coffees.
They even sell the stuff so that you can brew it at home.
So the story of Bar Baffo is that at some point not so long ago, they realized they couldn’t serve crap anymore. Either a change in management, or desperate need to pull in more income. They switched coffee and machines, and in my opinion, they serve a decent incarnation of the Traditional Roman coffee. Its definitely nothing near a Third Wave coffee experience, but still worth a try. If anything, you’ll surely find something sweet to eat here. A really great selection!
Bar Pasticceria “Baffo”,
Viale di Trastevere, 343