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Thursday 25 February 2010

Rome Guide: Caffè Sant'Eustachio

The focus of today's post.

OK, so we've just arrived in Rome. In my mind, we've travelled by bus, and have just got off at the bus stops along Via del Teatro Marcello. If you've arrived in Termini, by train, well, here's where you'd get your map out. Don't worry, it's not far.

Since it's such a lovely day today (I'm being optimistic), why don't we go for a stroll and have a coffee? There'll be plenty to see on the way, and I just happen to know of the perfect place.

I'm going to take you to Caffè Sant'Eustachio. And let me be frank: though on the way, we'll walk past the Monumento a Vittorio Emanuele II, which I always have to stop and marvel at, and later, we'll even go past the 2,000 year old Pantheon with its incredible dome, the real deal here is the coffee. Everybody likes a little history*, but what you need to know is where to get the best espresso you'll ever drink.

It's at Sant'Eustachio; you can thank me for telling you that later. And you will.

This is the place; step right in.

And this is one of the two coffee machines. Puts my moka pot to shame.

I'm not pretending for a second that I am the only one who knows about this place (although the friend who first recommended it to us made it sound as if he'd uncovered it all by himself - it's in all the guides, as it happens), but I would like to offer the following facts in support of my recommendation:

  • Caffè Sant'Eustachio has been operating from the same premises since 1958. You can't, just can't, be around that long without being good.
  • William Grimes, who used to write for the New York Times had this to say about it. He and I could be kindred spirits - he doesn't drink coffee that much either.
What this particular bar is famous for, really, is the gran caffè speciale (translation: big, special coffee - like you couldn't work that one out); rich, dark espresso, beaten with sugar (that's optional actually, though I do suggest you request), made and served by staff wearing pretty, old fashioned uniforms. They are more than pretty really. I'd say they were borderline sexy.

(You really want to go now, don't you?)

You can get gran caffè at any bar in Rome, but it really is sensational here. I don't even drink coffee that often, but I dream about cups of this stuff constantly when I'm at home in Wales and good coffee is nowhere to be found.

There's supposedly a science to all of this. Apparently, the water needs to be at a certain temperature, and pass through the coffee grounds at exactly the right pressure and speed to make a perfect cup of espresso. Since it is perfect at Sant'Eustachio, what we are really talking about here is barmen who are also scientists. Those uniforms just got a little bit sexier, didn't they?

(I wish I had a picture of the uniforms!)

I do feel, on reflection, that I would be a bad person if I didn't tell you that in addition to the coffee, the crostata served at Caffè Sant'Eustachio is some of the best I've ever had. I don't for a second think they make it themselves on the premises, but wherever it comes from, it's sublime.

Sant'Eustachio il Caffè
Piazza Sant'Eustachio 82
Tel: 06-6880-2048
And I would have taken a picture of that crostata were it not for the
barman who was joking with me about being English and living in Wales.
I lost concentration!

* I'm not being flippant about history, just so you know. Rome amazes me with each visit; at every turn there's something important dating back a few thousand years. We don't have that where I live!

You can buy the coffee in pretty cans, but since the bar staff seem so skilled,
I never bother. If I tried to do their job at home, it would be laughable.
I wouldn't mind the uniform though...


  1. It's ten years since I went to Rome and I would love to go back. I like all the yellow stuff in those pictures!

  2. zyeah so....coffee is my lifeblood. Seriously, if there could be such a thing as a coffee vampire, I would be it. Its a serious addiction.

    And that coffee looks AMAZING. Someone from my office just came back from Venice and brought me a small can of some coffee she says was divine, and I'm sure it is compared to the burnt taste of starbucks.But that shot of the coffee you had...there are no words to describe the amount of desire I had for that coffee. The real question now is, why didn't I know about this when I went to Rome in '02???

  3. With a name like T, I would never guess you loved coffee so much! This place is amazing though. You would love it.

    And Sarah - you have no idea how hard I fight to stop myself buying all the yellow things.

  4. I'm not pretending for a second that I am the only one who knows about your blog (although the friend who first recommended it to me made it sound as if she'd uncovered it all by herself). Oh who am I kidding. Love your blog and I think I WILL pretend, for a second, that I'm the only one who knows about it.

  5. If only I could move to Rome and eat myself to death.

    Death by Gelati is the way to go, you know.

  6. ciao! grazie for loving sant'eustachio coffee. being from Roma, i do too and it took me 5 years of courting to convince Roberto Ricci, the owner, to represent Sant'Eustachio in America. if you don't know Roberto, ask for him, next time - his shift starts at 8pm - he loves to spread his knowledge of coffee and to give samples of whatever they are tasting at the moment - always tasting. clearly we cannot do gran caffe', here. and no same water. but still a great great coffee. now, sunday morning: just had a cup at home. grazie ancora.
    Beatrice http://www.gustiamo.com

  7. Beatrice - what a great tip. I am searching out this Roberto next time! Is he a young guy? Not the one who gave me a hard time for living in Wales, for sure.

    Maybe he could spot me a uniform?

  8. i was just there last year but this time we went to sevilla hwich is not too bad :: we froez last year in rome in february !! cheers Pierre

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  10. Looks like a great cup of coffee. Nice posts about your Rome adventures.


That's what he said.

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