Florence is Italy's capital of good coffee. Rome and Milan could do better with specialty coffees

Jun 3 2024, 12:23
Rome and Milan are tied. The scene-stealer in the world of specialty coffee is undoubtedly Florence, especially considering its smaller size

Rome may be the "Capoccia," but only after Florence. Yet, about ten years ago, anyone would have bet on Milan. The vibrant, dynamic Milan, always attentive to new customer needs, open to current trends, and eager to embrace every possible stimulus from international colleagues. Instead, little Florence has beaten them all: it is the capital of quality coffee in Italy. After all, it always has been.


Florence, the capital of good coffee in Italy

Fortunately, we are talking about three cities that have grown significantly in the specialty coffee sector. But despite the improvements in each, there’s no contest, especially considering the difference in size: the Tuscan capital reigns supreme, not only for the number of establishments – in proportion to its size, of course – but also for the variety and type of offerings. It’s a paradise for those who have learned to know and love specialty coffee abroad: almost all of Florence's research coffee shops have a well-defined international soul (sometimes even the ownership, as in the case of the wonderful Melaleuca, one of the most beautiful establishments), a relaxed atmosphere, and a contemporary environment. A versatile menu that can satisfy hunger and palate at any hour, with scrambled eggs, babka, croque monsieur, and English breakfast, to enjoy with flat whites, cappuccinos, double espressos, cortados, V60s.

The Via de Neri Bar that paved the way

Ditta Artigianale (by entrepreneur and barista Francesco Sanapo) undoubtedly deserves much credit for being among the pioneering establishments of this concept of coffee shop in Italy: today, the company has six locations, but its greatest recognition is that it paved the way for many colleagues, leaving room for competition, and even encouraging it. Florence is no longer just Ditta. It’s also Le Vespe (where you can have a delicious brunch at the small outdoor tables, a corner of London on Via Ghibellina), Manly The Office (the bet of a barista who gained experience in Australia), Ben Caffè (formerly a bar of a small family hotel, now a large modern coffee shop), Piansa (a roasting company that set the standard in Italy), and many others.

L'Angolo del Caffè, Ostia

Specialty coffees in Milan and Rome

Milan and Rome follow in the race. From the former, let’s admit, we expected a bit more: there are plenty of good establishments, many professionals (there’s also a major consulting company for bars wanting to improve their offerings, Mezzatazza), but certainly, such an important and dynamic city in terms of dining can do much more. Rome has perhaps shifted up a gear, even transforming many neighborhood bars in more popular and populous, peripheral, and traditionalist areas (such as L’Angolo del Caffè in Ostia, an old bar from ’98 that has completely revamped its offering), and bringing specialty coffees to small bakeries (think of Lievito Francesco Arnesano or Forno Conti), ice cream parlors (Otaleg in Monteverde is doing a great job), places where beverages typically play a supporting role. Now, however, let’s not stop: there’s still a long way to go.

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