Sant’ Eustachio Il Caffè

An amazing mural on the wall behind the counter at Sant' Eustachio Il Caffè in Rome.When I first came to Rome almost 20 years ago, there were two venerable espresso bars in the centre that came to my attention: Tazza D’Oro, and, on the other side of the Pantheon, today’s Coffee Spot, Sant’ Eustachio Il Caffè. Located on the Piazza Di Sant’Eustachio, it actually predates Tazza D’Oro by six years, having first opened in 1938 and, like Tazza D’Oro, it’s a classic Italian espresso bar, although it also has outdoor seating.

Unless you’re sitting outside (where you’ll pay an extra €2.50 for the privilege), you first need to queue up at the till, pay for your espresso, then take the receipt to the counter. This is where you’ll find the main difference, the espresso itself, which, by default is served infused with sugar and, I’ve been told, is Neapolitan style. It’s certainly very different from the other espressos I had during my time in Rome.

So, what did I make of it? You can find out after the gallery.

  • On Piazza Di Sant’Eustachio, west of the Pantheon in the heart of Rome, stands this...
  • ... one of Rome's most famous espresso bars, Sant' Eustachio Il Caffè.
  • There is outside seating, including a table to the right of the door, and a row of tables...
  • ... seven in all, on the side of the pavement to the left of the door.
  • Talking of doors, there is a single, square opening...
  • ... which leads into a compact interior.
  • A rare quiet moment reveals the interior, with a curving counter on the left and back.
  • There are cakes and beans off to the right...
  • ... and more beans, bagged up this time, in a retail section in the right-hand back corner.
  • Meanwhile there's a counter on the left, which curves around...
  • ... to a short section at the back, where there's another espresso machine.
  • There's some lovely decor, including this mural on the wall on the left...
  • ... with this frieze above it.
  • There's also a lovely mosaic in the tiling on the threshold of the door.
  • You can buy the beans, which are an Arabica blend from South America...
  • ... and wood roasted on site.
  • There is a menu by the door. Note the prices are only if you sit in.
  • As is often the case, you first order and pay at the till, which is on the right...
  • ... then you take your receipt to the counter. Note that the default is with sugar.
  • The promise of espresso: an empty saucer is placed in front of you on the counter...
  • ... which is followed soon after by the coffee...
  • ... in this case, two espressos (without sugar).
  • I'll leave you with a shot of the crema, which is incredibly rich and foamy.
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Whereas Tazza D’Oro is visible when standing in front of the Pantheon, I always struggle to find Sant’ Eustachio Il Caffè, particularly in the days before Google Maps. I think of it as behind the Pantheon (ie to the south), but it’s actually to the west, a couple of streets away on Piazza Di Sant’Eustachio, which, despite the name, is more of a street than a square.

Sant’ Eustachio is quite small, with a simple, square opening which doubles as a window, while outside on the pavement, there’s a solitary table to the right of the door, with a row of seven tables to the left. Alternatively, head inside, where you’ll find a small, rectangular space, with the till on the right, just inside the door. Beyond this is a display case for the cakes and pastries, with glass cylinders above, holding retail coffee beans, wood-roasted on-site. Finally, beyond that in the right-hand back corner, is a retail area with merchandising and bagged-up coffee. Unlike Tazza D’Oro, there’s no separate retail till, so once you’ve grabbed a bag, you’ll need to head back to the till and join the queue with everyone else.

The rest of the space is given over to the counter, which starts against the left-hand wall, immediately next to the door, where you’ll find the first of two espresso machines. It then runs the length of the wall, before curving around for a short way on the back wall, ending with the second espresso machine. As usual, find a space at the counter and hand over your receipt: in return you’ll get a saucer (your promise of the coffee to come) and a glass of water.

An important point to note is that at Sant’ Eustachio, the coffee comes with sugar by default, so if you don’t want sugar, it’s important that you ask before it’s made. The resulting espresso, with or without sugar, is a very different beast to a typical Italian espresso, with an incredibly rich, foamy crema unlike anything I’ve seen elsewhere. Quite how the baristas get the espresso to extract like that, I really can’t tell (sadly the espresso machines are massive hulking things and, unlike Tazza D’Oro, there’s no angle where you can watch what’s going on).

Whatever is done, it produces an espresso that’s also very different in taste. I remember that I didn’t really like the coffee during my early trips to Sant’ Eustachio, much preferring Tazza D’Oro, but on my return, I found it more to my tastes. The method produces a naturally sweet espresso (I ordered it without sugar), the rich crema giving it a very different mouthfeel. Amanda, my coffee-tasting buddy on this trip, liked it too.

Whatever your tastes in coffee, you really should give Sant’ Eustachio a try, just for the experience and the contrast to other Roman espressos.

82 PIAZZA DI SANT’EUSTACHIO • ROME • 00186 • ITALY +39 06 6880 2048
Monday 07:30 – 01:00 Roaster Sant’ Eustachio (espresso only)
Tuesday 07:30 – 01:00 Seating Counter, Tables (outside)
Wednesday 07:30 – 01:00 Food Cake
Thursday 07:30 – 01:00 Service Counter, Table
Friday 07:30 – 01:30 Cards Amex, Mastercard, Visa
Saturday 07:30 – 02:00 Wifi No
Sunday 07:30 – 01:00 Power No
Chain No Visits 14th November 2018

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4 thoughts on “Sant’ Eustachio Il Caffè

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