Walking away or towards San Giovanni on the Via Merulana, this ancient route of Rome, you’ll have to grapple with the crazy traffic that chokes this avenue. And then you’ll have to pay attention to find this place. It’s called 081 Cafè and makes reference to Naples. It’s literally a hole in the wall, just a door and nothing else. But what might catch your attention, is the little stool outside and then, a big piece of wood with a La Pavoni little home lever machine at the entrance. Check out the photos below. On it, it has the coffee hopper from Kimbo Caffè. You walk in and you’re greeted by a small, bar that’s very high, almost chest high, were you take your coffee. The staff is no frills, dry, and yet warm and friendly. They’re a Neapolitan establishment, and there you just need to crack a joke to break the ice. If not you get the cold shoulder, no serious folk allowed there…
The coffee was served very simply as follows:
Presentation: Nice barrel like cup. I was skeptical of this brand, as it’s usually charred death in a cup. But I said, sheit, lets give it a go. Especially since they poured me a glass of sparkling water without me even asking. This is typical Naples custom at a café.
Temperature of Cup: It was warm, but not boiling freaking scalding hot as it is in Naples. The northern aspect of Rome has had it’s effect!
Quantity: Drop in the bucket short, No… it was a good small espresso, not ristretto, and a bit shy of a full piston load.
Temperature: Good, warm, brewed at around 92 or 93 C, it wasn’t boiling, and that’s a ticket to success.
Volume/Consistency: Mamma, it was creamy, smooth, full bodied, had a deeply mouth coating oil profile to it. It was rich, almost as if I was having a macchiato or something with more fatty oils in it. Really great!
Crema: Dark, uniform, a presence of Robusta beans meant it was a bit thick and grainy. It was persistent and added to the body of the espresso.
Odor: Dark roasted coffee, not charred pretrolium, but dark roasted. I could live with it and I could take it happily!
Taste: Well, here’s the thing, it was very good! Surprise no? Yeah, for me it was. It was s smooth gradual crescendo of bitter-nutty taste that opened to a rich buttery-chocolate like flavor. A bit smokey and hints of tobacco in it, and then moved slowly away from the bitterness with a chocolate like flavor finish. So nice!
Overall: It was simply a really great traditional ‘Roman/Neapolitan’ espresso. It was a combo of both worlds. It had a really well controlled temperature, the density of the coffee was good, and the flavor, really concise, compact and produced a killer espresso. Really excellent! The best espresso in the San Giovanni area in my opinion!
The setup: Like any Neapolitan themed café, they had a La San Marco lever espresso machine. The grinder looked like an old Macaf or something of the sort. The coffee was Kimbo Caffè. It’s quite a large brand, with tons of locales serving their stuff in Naples. It’s based just north of Naples in ‘Melito di Napoli’. Best version of their coffee I’ve had ever here in Italy.
Here's a sign that roughly says that if you want an excellent coffee, you've gotta have patience... in Neapolitan of course!
Here's the La Pavoni machine at the entrance:
Via Merulana 83