May 22 2010
Bettina von Hase
Recently I was in Rome and went with friends to see an exhibition at the Villa Borghese. Afterwards we passed the Caffè Sant’Eustachio, situated opposite the Church of Sant’Eustachio in a small piazza with the same name. It was everything one dreams of when visiting Rome: the scent of coffee inviting you in; gleaming coffee paraphernalia and delightful gurgling sounds; and, as we discovered, chocolate coffee treats to make your mouth water.
The chicci di caffè (chocolate-covered coffee beans) were so addictive that I have now asked a friend who visits Rome frequently to bring some back for me whenever he goes. The beans, which come from Guatemala, are roasted and then covered with deep, dark, bitter-sweet chocolate. The coffee taste is such a fresh burst in your mouth that no other bean comes close. Also try the coffee kiss, a small cake in the shape of a pair of lips; the bonbon, a little chocolate ball with liquid espresso inside; the tartufo al caffè, a chocolate and coffee truffle; and the sprint, the ultimate pick-me-up coffee bar, which contains the stimulant guarana from the Amazon.
The Caffè Sant’Eustachio takes its water supply from an aqueduct funnelling water into the city which was built in 19BC. Current owners Raimondo and Roberto Ricci are third-generation coffee makers, and travel far and wide to buy the best arabica coffee, which comes chiefly from Brazil, the Dominican Republic, Guatemala and Ethiopia, and which they also sell around the world. The packaging is a smart bright yellow: “The two important colours of Rome are yellow and red, and coffee brands choose mostly red – so I wanted to be different,” Raimondo told me.
Chocolate coffee beans from €1.50 for 25g to €14 for 500g.