Camille is enjoying a few quite days in Roma where she is attending a school to learn Italian. But her culinary adventure does not stop: she is still looking for the Italy Best Foods (and coffee) and she is meeting with Gustiamo producers. Click here if you wish to read previous stories. In Roma, she pays a visit to Sant’Estachio, il Caffe’:
I like to think of myself as somewhat of a coffee connoisseur. But in Italy, it’s a whole different story. From what I can tell, the majority of Italians drink caffè (what we would call “espresso”) with breakfast (for many, breakfast is only caffè), as an after-lunch pick-me-up, in early evening, and after dinner. By Italian standards, my one or two cups a day of watered down “caffè americano” with plenty of milk is as far from caffè as you can get. So I’ve been trying to take advantage of the “bar” (caffè bar, that is) on every corner, drinking as many cappuccini as possible before lunch (it’s strictly a morning beverage) and a caffè during the mid-afternoon slump as possible. When I first arrived I was impressed by everything, but now I’ve started to understand the difference between a perfectly balanced caffè and one that’s overly bitter or watery. And the caffè at Sant’ Eustachio is by far the best I’ve had. As I have been with every producer I’ve visited, I was really excited to visit the famous Sant’Eustachio in Rome.
I read about it in my “Food Wine Rome” travel guide and, as you might have noticed, they’ve been getting some great press lately. So although I was unable to visit them on a day when they would be roasting, I still felt fortunate to get a brief tour of where the magic happens. Raimondo took a quick break from the line at the cash register to show me the traditional, wood-fired coffee roaster (very few of which are in use today) and the bags and bags of pure arabica beans lining the walls. He explained that the entire roasting process takes only about 20 minutes, and that they have several different grinds (all of which are available through Gustiamo).
The best part of the visit, though, was getting to try the famous
caffè. It had bite but wasn’t overly bitter, was extremely sweet (just
how I like it, but you can get it “senza zucchero” if you prefer), and
the perfect strength. All in all, perfectly balanced.
And it’s worth visiting just to watch the barista at work – even when the line to get to the counter is three people deep, he works with determined precision and turns out the most attractive and best tasting drinks possible. As someone who’s done barista work, I appreciate the ability to make quality espresso even under pressure!
I look forward to taking my parents, who will be joining me in Rome, to Sant’ Eustachio and showing them the best caffè in town.