Thursday, December 24, 2015
Coffee in Rome
Here we are excitedly combing the Internet for reliable sources on where to go for the best coffee in Rome. And boy, are we getting a dismal earful. Gone is the joyous cacophony of gelato praise, with erudite understandings of what makes gelato great, and people willing to have unapologetic favorites that switch on a yearly basis as ever more exciting gelato shops open up.
No, alas, the dour coffee fiends of the world bitterly tut at the moribund Roman coffee bars.
It turns out Roman coffee isn't than good.
Oh, maybe it was, relatively speaking, twelve years ago when it got me hooked on coffee and all its smooth, bitter, silky intoxications. But coffee fetishists have bloomed across the world. They call it the third wave. And in most largish cities there is now a glittery array of people who not only actually know how to make a proper espresso and espresso based drinks, but have gone some way deeper in the minutiae of it all, handling everything from the intimate, personal acquisition of the beans to immaculately calibrated methods for extracting their finest qualities. Rome is still just out there bluntly pulling shots of improperly stored and improperly sourced coffee, charging not much, supposedly thinking badly of you if you order a cappuccino after 11 in the morning, and making it all just good enough.
But as much as I'm drawn to foodie snobbery, as keen as I am to know where the best cafes in Rome are, with the most perfect and exquisite shots available, it turns out that there are plenty of perfectly fine places, and one can get their four caffes a day at them, and it's all no big deal. I have much been to the famous places: Tazza d Oro and San Eustachio, and so I'll probably just go back to those and wherever else is at hand. Not much sounds bad: Ciampini, Gran Caffe La Caffettiera, Bar Nero, Cafe Peru, Canova, Giolitti, Canova Tadolina Cafe, Rosati, Cafffe Camerino, and Bar Del Cappuccino. As much as I love coffee I'll admit I'm pretty happy just to have it meet a certain "good" standard. After that modest prerequisite, what I really like are the rituals and the air and the time and the drug of coffee over anything else. Yes, I can sip my coffee like it's fine wine, and a cafe where they can't even steam milk properly will throw me into a tiny rage, but I might be happy in the Coffeeland of Rome, where I can throw down espressos, stained with milk, throughout the day, and not have to worry about missing the greatest gustatory experience of my life because I am gazing so rapturously into the distance.