How do you change the most entrenched coffee culture in the world? If you asked us, we never would have thought Third Wave coffee would make inroads into Rome. The Italians, after all, invented espresso, and for almost a century there have been very strict traditions defining it. The classic Italian espresso tends to be a blend of both Arabica and Robusta, with almost no acidity and darker roast characteristics. But Faro Luminari del Caffe is challenging the Italian coffee establishment with a mold-breaking, contemporary coffee service.
Perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised. Roasters such as Ditta Artigianale in Florence have been introducing Italians to lighter roasts and single estate coffees for years. Italian espresso machine manufacturers such as La Marzocco and Nuova Simonelli have been very responsive to the specialty coffee market. Rome, obviously, is a cosmopolitan capital city, and judging by the Saturday morning crowd at Faro, there’s plenty of Romans ready for specialty coffee.
When we walked into Faro we were surprised to find a coffee menu that reads like a wine list at a Michelin-starred restaurant. There’s several pages of options from roasters all around Europe, including Aarhus’s La Cabra, Berlin’s Five Elephant, and Italy’s Gardelli Specialty Coffee. We settled on a single origin espresso roasted by Ditta Artigianale, while others in our party chose cappuccinos.
As we waited for our drinks, the caffe started to come to life. Middle age men drank their espresso standing at the counter while baristas filled take-away bags with fresh cornetti. The coffee may be Nordic-inspired, but the vibes here are decidedly Italian.
Faro means “lighthouse” in Italian, and it’s a fitting name for the caffe. In a sea of traditional coffee shops, Faro is a beacon for specialty coffee. Forget the Spanish Steps or Trevi Fountain, and make sure you visit Faro on your Roman Holiday.