You might think that living in Italy means that you can always find good coffee everywhere you go. That’s not so true. You need to learn some tricks, in order to make sure you enjoy a real Italian espresso or cappuccino. Normally, I tend to avoid old “bar tabacchi” (which still exist in Italy, I really don’t understand why) and tourist traps . Unfortunately, many places use low quality blends and have old coffee machines, so their coffee has a bitter aftertaste and there’s no cream in the cup. They only way to become a coffee expert is to try different places and make a list of the good ones. Knowing something about coffee blends and checking the coffee shop interior helps, too. Finally, you’ve got to follow your instinct. So let’s start from Bergamo, in the North of Italy, a town where it’s not so hard to find good Italian coffee.
THE BEST ITALIAN COFFEE IN BERGAMO
As I’ve already written in my Bergamo art and food guide, there are many nice and cozy places where you can have breakfast, lunch, dinner or “merenda” (the Italian equivalent of afternoon tea) without spending a fortune or risking to find not-so-good food and drinks. This time, we’ll focus on coffee, even though there’s no coffee without food for me – that’s why you’ll see pictures of cakes and croissants. Anyways, I want to start with a place I’ve recently bumped into, Bugan Coffee Lab.
BUGAN COFFEE LAB
In 2014, in the lower town – known as Bergamo Bassa – a man called Maurizio Valli founded Bugan Coffee Lab, the first coffee laboratory in Italy. He took part in national competitions and kept searching for different blends, like “Bolivia” with its chocolate notes, which is perfect with milk. Also, he decided to create his micro-roastery in order to offer the best coffee to his clients, selecting Arabic single origins from all over the world and opting for a light roasting. There’s also a Coffee Academy, where baristas are trained and taught the secret of perfect Italian coffee.
Now there’s also a Bugan coffee shop in the old town, Bergamo Alta, next to a newly open gelateria, Carmen: aren’t ice cream and coffee the perfect combination in every season?! When you enter the shop, you are told about their blends and invited to drink some (free) water before having your coffee: well, this is a detail that helps you identify good coffee shops. Coffee comes in design cups that are also for sale, and that’s a plus, too. But the best thing is coffee – creamy, aromatic, perfect. There’s no sugar in the shop, because good Italian coffee doesn’t need any. But on the other hand, there are cakes and brownies which are sooo tempting. And I recommend trying their apple cake.
To find out more about Bugan Coffee Lab, click here.
A NICE CUP OF ITALIAN COFFEE
Among the other coffee houses that I can recommend, are Sweet Irene, Caffè del Tasso, La Pasqualina and La Chicca.
Sweet Irene is a small, cozy vegetarian restaurant in Via Sant’Orsola, in Bergamo Bassa. In addition to good plant-based dishes and yummy cakes, they also make a good Italian espresso. If you like your Italian coffee with milk, you can choose among cow milk, almond milk, rice milk, soy milk. And being this a healthy café, coffee is organic (Pascucci, one of my favourite Italian brands).
In the old town, Caffé del Tasso is popular among locals as well as tourists, who come here because of its location (Piazza Vecchia, next to the Cathedral). Coffee is very strong, so I suggest ordering a cappuccino and a slice of cake. Yes, they have wonderful homemade cakes!
As regards La Pasqualina, I’ve already written a post about this excellent chocolate, tea and coffee shop. Although they’re famous for their homemade hot chocolate, coffee is really good, too. I especially like “caffè con panna”, coffee with cream (which is also homemade), which is actually a mood lifter.
And last but not least, if you happen to be in via Pignolo – a small pedestrian street in a nice, quiet suburb – La Chicca is a beautiful, old-style coffee house inside a historical building. They make good coffee, cappuccino and baked goods.