Wherever you go in Rome–or Italy for that matter–a cheap coffee made with beans of anonymous provenance and dubious quality is never far away. Ubiquitous espresso-based drinks are so popular because, aside from the cultural tradition and obvious addictive nature of caffeinated beverages, they are quick and cheap. They offer a morning pick-me-up or a break (or in my case 5) while working or socializing. The concepts that surround coffee culture outside of Italy–bean origin, fair trade, barista training, and proper machine maintenance–rarely come into the minds of most coffee drinkers here.
That doesn’t mean that Romans aren’t open to a better coffee made in clean machines with expertly roasted beans ground and brewed by skilled professionals. There just aren’t all that many alternatives to the status quo. This is slowly changing as a handful of the city’s restaurants and cafes choose better beans: Terre e Domus, Roscioli Caffè, most recently, Pergamino Caffè in Prati’s Piazza Risorgimento.
Named for the outer shell that covers green coffee before dry milling, Pergamino opened this summer just a hundred yards north of the Vatican walls. While they do serve food (more about that later), coffee is the main attraction and they offer espresso-based drinks, as well as filter, syphon, Aeropress, and nitro coffees. Before dismissing the latter categories as hipster shit, swing by Pergamino and chat with the totally earnest baristas who kindly and unpretentiously describe the various techniques as they grind mono-origin beans to order before transforming them into your desired drink.
If you prefer the classics, the espressi and cappuccini are delicious; expect some latte art with the latter, courtesy of training by Davide Cobelli. Meanwhile, the beans are roasted by Nicoletta Montini and Max Bonini of Torrefazione Lady Cafè, a trusted source for some of Italy’s finest restaurants, cafes and gelato shops.
If you visit around lunchtime, you may want to eat elsewhere–Panificio Bonci and Pizzarium are both close–unless you wish to suffer the mental anguish that comes with ordering a bagel and getting a dry ring-shaped bread instead. I may consider a salad or club sandwich in the future once these wounds have healed. In the meantime, you’ll find me at the Nitro tap.
Piazza Risorgimento 7
+39 06 8953 3745
Open Daily 8:00am-8:00pm