I’m pretty good at picking hotels that are close to excellent coffee. On my recent trip to Montréal, my hotel was chosen for its proximity to Paquebot Mont-Royal, while my hotel in Tokyo was close to multiple great coffee shops, including Lattest and Stockholm Roast. However, when it came to Rome, the only criteria was how close it was the various historical sights. The fact that it was under 10 minutes from the best coffee in the city turned out to be entirely coincidental.
Roscioli Caffè Pasticceria is part of a small group which includes a restaurant/deli, bakery, and this, a coffee shop and patisserie, which also serves breakfast, lunch and dinner, plus wine and cocktails, in a small room at the back. I suspect that for most, the sumptuous cakes, pastries and tarts are the main draw, but it also happens that the coffee, from Laboratorio Di Torrefazione Giamaica Caffè in Verona, is the best I’ve had on this trip. There are two blends and a single-origin on espresso, plus multiple single-origins on pour-over.
You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.
There’s not much to Roscioli Caffè Pasticceria which is on Piazza Benedetto Cairoli in the heart of Rome, just south of the Campo de Fiori and Largo di Torre Argentina. Long and thin, the door is on the left, with a tall, narrow window on the right. Inside, the counter runs along the right-hand wall, the till followed by row-upon-row of cakes. Three grinders are on the wall behind the till, next to a hybrid espresso machine, with lever groups at either end, flanking three convention E61 group heads. Despite multiple visits, I never did work out which group was used for what.
The principle method of taking your coffee (and, indeed, any cakes or sandwiches, plus wine in the evening) is standing at the counter, at whatever spot you can find, where there’s maybe room for 10 at most. In theory I think you pay at the till, then present your ticket, much as at Tazza D’Oro, but in practice, most people just order at the counter, then pay on leaving.
If you want to sit down, a narrow passage at the back leads to a small, windowless room. This has a bar against the right-hand wall and a U-shaped table, the open end against the bar. This seats 10, four down either side, with two at the end opposite the bar. There’s often a wait, so you might need to be patient, although unless you’re eating, I recommend standing at the counter, even though it’s lovely in the back room.
When it comes to coffee, Roscioli has three options on espresso, serving single shots by default, although you can order a double (doppio). If you don’t specify, you’ll get the African Blend (Miscela Afribon) in the morning, while after lunch, the default is the single-origin Guatemalan, both from Laboratorio Di Torrefazione Giamaica Caffè in Verona, a new roaster for me. You can, of course, specify which you want at any time of the day, as well as choosing another blend, Mamma Mia from Ditta Artigianale.
My first visit was on Friday, when I had a very quick mozzarella and spinach sandwich, plus an espresso. However, I wasn’t really paying attention and it was only when my friend Amanda and I returned the following day for our morning espressos that I started making notes. We ordered the Guatemalan, which was gorgeous, a fruity, well-balanced espresso. Even Amanda, who isn’t an habitual espresso drinker, was impressed, drinking it without any sugar.
We enjoyed our visit so much that we returned every day thereafter, alternating the Miscela Afribon with the Guatemalan, while on the second day, Amanda switched to cappuccinos. Our combined consensus is that both are excellent, with the Miscela Afribon slightly stronger and more bitter. Although both work well on their own and in milk, we agreed that the Guatemalan was better as an espresso, while preferring the Miscela Afribon as a cappuccino, its flavour standing up well to the milk.
Finally, I tried the Mamma Mia, a low acidity blend. It was very fruity, but I felt it lacked balance and was too bright for my palate, preferring the other options. By this point, I had also noticed, on the wall behind the till, various V60s amongst the bags of coffee, leading to the discovery that Roscioli does pour-over, but that’s another tale…
|16 PIAZZA BENEDETTO CAIROLI • ROME • 00186 • ITALY|
|www.rosciolicaffe.com||+39 06 8916 5330|
|Monday||07:00 – 23:00||Roaster||Giamaica Caffè + Guests (espresso) + Guests (filter)|
|Tuesday||07:00 – 23:00||Seating||Counter, Table|
|Wednesday||07:00 – 23:00||Food||Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Sandwiches, Cake|
|Thursday||07:00 – 23:00||Service||Counter, Table|
|Friday||07:00 – 23:00||Payment||Cards + Cash|
|Saturday||07:00 – 23:00||Wifi||Free (with code)|
|Sunday||08:00 – 18:00||Power||No|
|Chain||No||Visits||9th – 14th November 2018|
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