Coffee at Sant’Eustachio in Rome (just a short walk from the Pantheon or piazza Navona) comes in many excellent forms. Two of my favorites: the coffee granita con panna, deliciously icy and creamy all at once, and the gran caffe, the ne plus ultra of espresso. Thanks to some invisible magic, Sant’Eustachio’s crema is closer to a bubble bath foam than a thin, disappearing film.
It makes me very happy to have a kilo of Sant’Eustachio’s whole beans in my freezer; those yellow bourbon coffee beans are roasted in an antique, wood-fired apparatus. Now if I only knew what went on behind the screen shielding the barman’s espresso machine, I too might approach coffee perfection. The thick crema pictured at right clings to the bottom of an otherwise empty cup, despite vigorous stirring, sugaring, and slurping. Some credit the beans, others the technique, and I’ve even heard rumors of sodium bicarbonate in the water to ramp up the foam….it is still a delicious secret.