Having enjoyed the third wave coffee houses of northern California, such as the Verve, Blue Bottle, etcetera… Those special roasts of Cafés El Magnífico, Nomad, etc… in Barcelona, and even the great Scandinavian roasters such as Tim Wendelboe, Dromedar etc… (blah blah blah…) in Norway, I arrived in Rome like any naive coffee enthusiast thinking I’d get much of the same quality here. Well… it’s a bit more difficult than that. This blog is about finding the best places to have Third Wave Specialty coffee in Rome, and a bit more about all cafes in Rome generally.
The aim of this blog is to present to coffee lovers a place where you can find simple, honest, and recent reviews about coffee houses here in Rome. It is in no way intended to present only the best cafes or coffee shops of Rome. All the junk you find on the net simply states how “great” all these coffee houses are. Yet when you go there, usually the coffee is disappointingly bad (to be polite, it’s usually utter crap).
Instead of writing nice reviews of the same old bars, my goal is to find and share those special places I find that take into consideration the endless taste possibilities afforded by coffee if it is roasted with attention, and served with care. In the process of finding the needle in the haystack, I’m documenting all the bars I visit, and give my blunt concise opinion about their coffee.
Of course, this is one “very” biased view of Roman coffee. But where merited I do point out a great incarnation of what traditional Roman coffee is. However, 80% of the time, I encounter an attitude towards coffee that tells me that coffee is the least of the barista or owner’s concerns….
If you want to contact me, my name is Sebastian, and please send me an email addressed to the name of this blog at gmail dot com.
At the top of the review all cafes are given one of three ratings: Good, Standard, Poor.
This is represented by the laurel wreath. There will be very very few of these given out. They are Third Wave coffee, roasts in-house or from conscientious roaster. Cares for the taste of beans, etc.
Standard=This is broken up in three categories, all communicate the tradition Roman coffee experience. Normal Roman coffee, quite bitter, burnt, and robust. Not French Roast, but nearing there. The vast bulk of coffee houses in Rome fall under this category.
This is Roman coffee at it’s fines. It is silky, has body, oily, a good crema and has a bitter deep taste that gives you a beautiful bouquet of dark-roasted coffee.
This varies a lot. It is not rancid, it shares some of the above-qualities, but not all together. It might be thin, poor crema, but still not rancid.
This is coffee that has a piping hot cup, very hot espresso, and thing, but still not rancid, and if given some minutes, will be entirely drinkable. Maybe with sugar it becomes a great coffee.
Old coffee, extremely bitter in taste, rancid and undrinkable, and in my opinion, obviously the least concern for the owner of the coffee shop. There’s a lot of these too!
Finally, each drink of espresso is graded on the following categories:
Presentation: Attention given to the presentation of the coffee, do they serve it with a glass of water?
Temperature of Cup: Is the cup cold, wet, piping hot, or right for enjoying an espresso?
Quantity: Too much coffee, too little, do they know what an espresso is?
Temperature: Again, reflects their knowledge of how good coffee is brewed. Too hot and the coffee is burnt, too cold and …
Volume/Consistency: Lets us know if they pack too much grinds into the porta filter or not enough, all reflects the attitude to coffee.
Crema: Let’s us know about what coffee beans they’re using, and how old they are! Most baristas get very defensive when you ask about their beans…
Odor: All clues as to the quality of the taste experience.
Taste: The final, and most important aspect. How does the damned espresso taste! Is there any other quality besides pungent bitterness of a dead, old, over-roasted bean?
Overall: This is a simple summary giving a few more details as to why I grade the coffee as I do. Nothing more, nothing less.
And then, well, I discuss briefly what the Setup is. Sometimes cafes have a killer setup, and thus the potential to squirt out crazy ass good coffee, but they don’t have the training or desire to do so,…. so here we just discuss what hardware was available to do the job. If you’re a coffee machine or grinder geek, check out the end of the review!
And that’s a wrap.