The perfect coffee: Notes from Rome

On my quest to find amazing dishes + drinks around the world, this guest post by Nichole Manna takes us to Rome, where coffee is a way of life.—Tracey

When I went to Italy last summer to study, I knew I would taste great wine. But I honestly didn’t think I’d also have great coffee. We landed in Rome on May 14, picked our hotel rooms, mingled with classmates and then immediately hit the nearest coffee spot: Tazza D’Oro. Just a short walk from Hotel Navona, just past the historic Pantheon, Tazza D’Oro would soon become our morning stop before seeing the sights for the next five days—and mid-day stops, pre-dinner stops and occasionally “just for the heck of it.”

On the first day my American mind was still spinning its red, white and blue wheels. I immediately thought the coffee would cost as much as it does at Starbucks, would be made like a Starbucks coffee and would have to be ordered the way one does at Starbucks. Fortunately, I was wrong. Ordering un caffè in Rome is a unique experience.

Tazza D’Oro sits on the left side of a corner facing the Pantheon. There are two doors. Through the first one you see a bar and a couple of tables. Through the second door, you see a cashier and a few gifts to take home. I stepped through the second door and stared at the menu until the woman behind the counter looked anxious.

I walked up to the counter and nervously mumbled, “Un caffè per favore.” She gave me a kind smile, a nod and asked for 1 euro. My mouth almost dropped. That’s only $1.50 for an actual cup of coffee, unheard of where I live.

I handed her my euro and she handed me a slip of white paper on which my order was written. I walked to the bar and handed the slip to the barista. He quickly whipped up my caffè and slid it across the table with some natural sugar.

I poured just a bit of sugar in the caffè and looked around for the creamer. I panicked for a second, reminding myself that I wasn’t in a coffee shop back home, and took the first of many amazing sips of coffee.

It was smooth. It was warm. It gave me a rush of energy. Unlike the burnt and scolding hot coffee we often pay way far too much for—this coffee was perfect.

Nichole Manna is a Journalism student at Middle Tennessee State University who will be graduating in December 2012. In 2011 she studied in Italy. Nichole is currently interning at

Want to create your own travel memories—and write about them? Sign up for Fly Away Travel Writing Class, which starts the week of April 23rd.

1 Comment
  1. I enjoyed your guest post, Nichole — what a lovely glimpse of your java discovery!  Thanks, too, Tracey — your blog is the perfect setting to savor an aromatic cup of coffee — which reminds me, I need to make a “date” with my Bialetti tomorrow morning…

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