Our mission to find the best coffee in Rome was successful. Read on to discover the best Rome coffee shops serving cappuccinos, flat whites and pour overs in the eternal city.
Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither was its coffee culture.
The culture of coffee goes deep in Italy, dating back to the 16th century when Turkish traders first introduced robusta beans to the upper class in Venice all the way to the present day when Starbucks introduced blended Frappuccino coffee drinks to the masses in Florence.
It didn’t take long for Rome cafes to join Italy’s coffee klatch.
Rome’s oldest cafe, Antico Caffè Greco, opened in 1760 and is still considered by many to be one of the best cafes in Rome if not all of Italy. Luminaries like Casanova, Ibsen, Keats and Wagner have sipped cups of darkly roasted coffee in this cafe over the centuries. Other historic Rome cafes include Caffetteria Sciascia, Giolitti, Sant’Eustachio Il Caffè and Caffè Tazza D’Oro.
Kill two birds with one stone at Giolitti. This Roman coffee bar doubles as one of the city’s best gelato shops.
In our fantasy world, we would love the coffee at historic cafes in Rome. We would queue for coffee with locals and quickly down our tiny cups of espresso and larger cappuccinos.
We’d even get into conversations using broken Italian between sips. But, if you know us, you know that we’re partial to specialty or third wave coffee – something relatively new to Italian coffee culture.
Yes, we prefer to drink coffee brewed with single origin arabica beans that haven’t been over-roasted. In America, we call this style ‘third wave coffee’ though most people call it ‘specialty coffee’ in countries around the world.
Whatever you want to call it, we didn’t drink any flat whites or pour overs during our first Rome trip in 2010. If there was any there, we never found it.
What a difference a decade makes.
Our visits in 2020 and 2021 were a roaring success. Not only did we dive deep into the Rome food scene and eat our cumulative weight in both pizza and gelato, but we also dined at wonderful restaurants and found great specialty coffee in the eternal city.
It excites our coffee loving bones to see the demand for new artisanal methods blossoming among a new generation of Italian-born coffee drinkers, baristas and roasters.
Credit the large international expat population or just the changing tastes of Italians. Either way, we love that the country which invented the espresso machine has begun to embrace coffee’s newest wave.
Italians are the best baristas in the world. Why shouldn’t coffee shops in Rome have excellent coffee too?
Our Favorite Rome Cafes for Specialty Coffee
After hearing rumblings that specialty coffee had finally gotten a foothold in Rome, we had to see and taste it ourselves to believe it. After all, Rome is the epicenter for classic Italian coffee culture with many of the best coffee shops in Italy within its borders.
We’re pleased to report that the rumors are true. While the eternal city isn’t yet inundated with hipster coffee shops, Rome now has more than enough quality coffee purveyors to fuel us through grueling days of food exploration.
These are our favorite Rome coffee shops:
1. Faro – Luminari del Caffè
Open since 2016, Faro is a serious coffee shop with impressive equipment and a full coffee menu. It’s also a modern yet comfortable cafe that could be located anywhere in the world.
Luckily for Roman residents, Faro is just a 15 minute walk from Roma Termini train station.
Faro translates to lighthouse and its WiFi password senzazucchero translates to without sugar. Both words are symbolic for a coffee shop committed to transforming Rome’s old-school coffee culture. Don’t worry – you can request sugar without scorn if that’s your thing.
Although Faro initially sourced beans from quality roasters like The Barn in Berlin, the cafe now roasts its own beans. During our initial visit, options included single origin beans grown in Brazil, Burundi, Colombia, Ethiopia and Kenya.
Beyond coffee, Faro’s menu includes a range of teas, and a variety of sandwiches with fillings like salmon, guacamole, ricotta and veggies. The cafe also serves dishes like the savory maritozzi stuffed with tripe and pecorino that we shared.
Discover our Italian food favorites.
But how is Faro’s coffee?
Snagging a spot next to expansive windows, we proceeded to order two drinks. Daryl chose filtered coffee prepared with a an AeroPress while Mindi opted for a refreshing shakerato, essentially two shots of espresso shaken with ice. We both felt like winners as we soaked in the autumn sun and sipped our coffee without feeling rushed.
Update: Our second visit didn’t disappoint. Daryl mixed things up by ordering a cold brew instead of filtered coffee plus a savory maritozzo. Both were great as was Mindi’s shakerato.
2. Pergamino Caffè
Smart travelers know to visit the Vatican in the morning before the crowds become overwhelming. Smarter travelers know to head over to Pergamino immediately after visiting one of the world’s most impressive cathedrals.
After all, Pergamino is just an eight-minute walk from St. Peter’s Square. Plus, it’s right next door to Be.Re., a bustling craft beer bar for those in the mood for a different type of brew.
Pergamino quickly achieved notoriety for serving cold brew nitro coffee both in cans and on tap after it opened in 2017. A relatively new style of adding nitrogen gas to cold brewed coffee to create a smooth finish and foamy head, nitro coffee debuted in cities like Austin, Portland and NYC in 2013 before jumping the pond to Europe. Pergamino serves nitro tea as well.
We knew we had found a happy place at Pergamino as soon as we saw bags of Garage Coffee Bros. beans from Verona on the shelves. Quickly ordering espresso brewed with a special blend of Garage beans was a no-brainer. The more challenging decision was what to order next.
While Pergamino offers a full slate of specialty coffee drinks as well as pancakes in the morning and sandwiches during the day, we opted to share a can of nitro coffee, senza zucchera of course. The cold, potent brew was just enough to energize us for the evening but not too much to ruin our dinner.
Update: We ordered flat whites when we returned and enjoyed them too.
Be aware that Pergamino adds a surcharge of €1 to €2 if you drink your coffee at a table. While not unusual at Rome cafes, the practice of charging extra for table service can be surprising to American travelers.
Pergamino Caffè is located at Piazza del Risorgimento, 7, 00192 Roma, Italy.
Don’t be confused by its name. Although Barnum’s moniker was inspired by Barnum & Bailey’s circus, this central cafe doesn’t rely on clown tricks or novelty acts to attract customers. Instead, people in the know flock to this cafe near Campo de’ Fiori for serious coffee with a side of free internet.
The connection to Phineas Taylor Barnum is real. Barnum (the cafe) channels the ultimate showman’s spirit by creating a fun atmosphere that’s different from traditional Roman cafes. A sophisticated exposed brick wall decor, lined with vintage posters of the 19th century megapromoter as well as magician Harry Houdini, adds to the cafe’s fun vibe.
The first stop on our Rome specialty coffee crawl, Barnum set a high bar with excellent filtered coffee and textbook flat whites crafted with Le Piatntagioni del Caffè arabica beans roasted in Livorno, Tuscany. After sharing filtered coffee brewed with a Hario V60, we ordered flat whites to complete our caffeination. Other coffee drink options at the time of our initial visit included espressos, cappuccinos, marocchinos and cold brew.
Beyond coffee, Barnum serves breakfast and lunch fare as well as cocktails and cicchetti. In other words, go to Barnum when you’re craving either Avocado Toast or a Negroni. As for us, we’ll most likely order coffee when (not if) we return.
Update: Our two return visits a year later were a mixed bag. While the coffee and atmosphere were still great, the service was not at the same level of our initial visit.
Barnum isn’t the only circus-themed destination to visit in Rome. Be sure to visit the ruins of Circus Maximus, a massive ancient stadium where ancient Romans were entertained by chariot races and other grandiose spectacles.
4. Tram Depot
Tram Depot takes the idea of specialty coffee in Rome to a new level by serving it from a vintage circa 1933 green tram next to a park in the Testaccio neighborhood. Since the tram is too small for indoor seating, tables spill onto the kiosk’s park-adjacent sidewalk.
While the tram is a classic, Tram Depot’s coffee offerings include a full roster of espresso drinks as well as filtered coffee brewed via syphon, French press and V60. But the the drinks don’t stop there – kombucha, craft beer and cocktails are also on the menu.
Food options include cornetto pastries, yogurt cups and triangular tramezzino sandwiches.
We started most of our mornings with cappuccinos at Tram Depot during our most recent visit to Rome. How could we not? The seasonal kiosk was a short walk from our apartment.
Costing only €1.50 and crafted with beans from Rome’s Picapau Coffee Roastery at the time of our visit, we would have walked longer for those cappuccinos. Not that we’re complaining!
Pair your visit to Tram Depot with lunch at Mercato di Testaccio, one of Rome’s most vibrant food markets.
Tram Depot is located at Via Marmorata, 13, 00153 Roma, Italy.
5. Fax Factory
While most of Rome’s best coffee shops are located in touristed areas, Fax Factory bucks this trend with its residential Pigneto location. But don’t count this shop out if you’re into good coffee.
Fax Factory is worth taking a tram ride if you want to drink coffee in Rome with locals.
While you may see some fellow travelers and expats, Pigneto is a more typical neighborhood filled with drab, balconied apartment buildings – it’s a place where typical Romans live and work.
It’s also edgy and vibrant. We saw plenty of street art as we walked from the tram to the cafe.
We immediately felt at home once we entered the cafe. Not only did it look like coffee shops we’ve visited all over the world and back home in Philadelphia, but it also had familiar touches like bags of Taste Map coffee roasted in Vilnius, American-style pancakes and oat milk.
While we skipped the oat milk, we enjoyed both the coffee and pancakes. Owner Luca Palazzi steered us to an arabica blend of Brazilian and Ethiopian beans during our visit. It was a good recommendation and a fun hang.
Fax Factory is a 40-minute walk or 20-minute train ride from Roma Termini.
Fax Factory is located at Via Antonio Raimondi, 87, 00176 Roma, Italy.
6. Roscioli Caffè
Roscioli Caffè doesn’t look like a typical specialty coffee shop. In fact, we did a double take when we saw shelves of various pastries at the popular cafe. But make no mistake – this Rome institution serves single-origin arabica beans in addition to its famous maritozzo pastries.
We weren’t surprised to find two sizes of maritozzi amid an array of Italian pastries. In fact, we specifically walked to Roscioli to try both the cafe’s coffee and cream-filled buns. Our verdict? The combination is a winner.
Disclosure: While we prefer the cream-filled buns called fioco de neve in Naples, maritozzi are worth eating at least once in Rome.
Choosing single-origin Guatemala beans over an African blend, we were pleased that each coffee cost just €1.10 at the time of our visit. While we opted to share a small maritozzo with our hand-pulled espressos, we were tempted by the many pastries on display. Maybe we’ll try a different pastry next time unless we opt for sandwiches and cocktails instead.
Although Roscioli Caffè has outdoor seating, you may need to wait for a table or squeeze a spot at the bar. It’s a popular spot in Rome’s Centro Storico.
Roscioli Caffé is located at Piazza Benedetto Cairoli, 16, 00186 Roma, Italy.
7. Emporio Sant’Eustachio
Emporio Sant’Eustachio, an offshoot of Rome’s Sant’ Eustachio Il Caffè, is proof that the eternal city’s coffee culture is slowly but surely evolving. It’s also proof that some changes are worth the wait – especially when those changes involve flat whites and pour overs.
You’ve probably heard of Sant’ Eustachio Il Caffè. It’s been a local institution since the cafe started roasting and serving coffee in 1938. Only open since October of 2021, the emporium doesn’t yet have the historic cafe’s fame or glory. However, the newer spot has some notable features…
Not only does Emporio Sant’Eustachio have a La Marzocco espresso machine, but it also has a Modbar above-counter espresso tap. Once we saw the gleaming modern equipment, we couldn’t resist ordering cappuccinos crafted with 100% arabica Ethiopian beans roasted by the iconic Sant’ Eustachio Il Caffè. We also couldn’t resist ordering a panini though we restrained from adding a pastry to our order.
These features may be fairly normal when it comes to specialty coffee around the world. But, for an old-school cafe to create such a space in Italy, it’s groundbreaking. It’s also convenient for travelers like us who want to sip specialty coffee while touring Rome’s most popular sites.
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About the Authors
Daryl & Mindi Hirsch
Saveur Magazine’s BEST TRAVEL BLOG award winners Daryl and Mindi Hirsch share their culinary travel experiences and recipes on the 2foodtrippers website and YouTube. The married Food and Travel content creators live in Lisbon, Portugal.
Original Publication Date: May 9, 2021