Coffee isn't a beverage in Italy - it's a religion. Just order an espresso at any given bar and you'll get a glimpse of everyday life and current affairs in Italy. But where can you find the best coffee in Rome? It's hard to get a bad cup of coffee in the Eternal City, but with these top picks, you definitely can't go wrong.
Before we start, let's get the basics straight so you won't feel like a lost tourist when you order your first Roman coffee. First of all, Italians usually don't sit down to drink their espresso, but sip it at the counter, while standing up. The whole process of ordering, paying and drinking usually doesn’t take more than five minutes and will cost you as little as one euro. If you prefer to sip your coffee while sitting down, of course you can do so, but be aware that a lot of bars will charge more for that.
A normal coffee in Italy is a short, black coffee (an espresso). If you order a caffè, this is what you'll get. A bigger cup of black coffee is what Italians call caffè Americano (but most times this is just espresso with hot water, not filter coffee). You can also go for a cappuccino, but only in the morning: Italians drink this for breakfast and are horrified at the thought of having milk after lunchtime (they believe it interferes with the digestion). Caffè macchiato is an espresso with a little bit of milk on top (more accepted after lunch) while caffè shakerato is a cold, shaken espresso with ice.
This tourist hotspot is always crowded, but there's a good reason for that: they are said to have the best coffee in Rome. Its interior is the perfect example of a classical Roman bar: small, not too fancy and decorated in different shades of brown. The owners get their beans from Maya descendants in Brazil. Be sure to try the Gran Caffè, their famous specialty with its secret recipe. The original includes a little bit of brown sugar: if you prefer it without, be sure to tell the barista beforehand. The stand, don't sit rule really applies here: a Gran Caffè costs €2,90 at the counter but almost double the price when you decide to sit on the outside terrace.
2. Antico Caffè Greco
This classic bar and restaurant is a place you should visit for the coffee, but even more so for its entourage. Located right next to the Spanish Steps, it's one of the oldest cafes in Europe and the favourite spot of many famous artists, writers, and philosophers throughout history (amongst others Goethe, Andersen, and Keats). Decorated in a classical, Belle Epoque style and with many beautiful paintings, it's a real treat to have an espresso here. The only downside? A normal caffè in the sitting area will cost you 6 euros (so if you're on a budget, be sure to stand at the bar).
3. Faro – Luminari del Caffè
Looking for a place to sip coffee in a more modern atmosphere? Faro is Rome's self-declared first specialty coffee shop and a welcome change from the typical, Italian bar. Its contemporary and laid-back interior will make you feel right at home; in fact, this is one of the few coffee spots in Rome where you can easily spend a few hours. They have plenty of options for coffee lovers, from AeroPress to syphon and from their house blend to some very special roastings.
4. Tram Depot
This trendy coffee shop (and aperitivo spot) in Testaccio is only open during the warmer months, but if you happen to be there in spring or summer, don't forget to drop by: it's one of our favourite places for a cappuccino. The bar is made out of a vintage tram carriage and besides your regular Italian espresso, they offer several dripper and syphon coffees. Sit down (this relaxed spot is perfect for that) in one of the swings and enjoy your drink.
5. Chiostro del Bramante's Café Bistrot
This oasis of tranquility in the middle of Rome’s busy city center is pretty well hidden: it’s located on the courtyard of the Cloister of Bramante, an impressive piece of Renaissance architecture where regularly changing exhibitions of modern art are on display. Just enter the cloister and continue to the first floor to find the bar. They offer a great regular coffee as well as cocktails including espresso. On colder days you can sit inside their modern bar or restaurant area, but when the temperature permits it, it’s a great idea to order inside the bar and take your coffee to the outside tables under the arcades, looking out over the cloister’s courtyard.
Kenny’s love for European cuisine was sparked after moving to Rome in 2009. He fell in love with the city’s backstreet eateries, and even more with the people and stories behind each dish. Now he's turned his passion into food tours, so Eating Europe guests can also share a taste of local life.