This has always been a popular and busy South Park institution. From its location near the center of the park, this café has witnessed the run-up to the dot-com boom (from before Wired magazine made this neighborhood the “heart of the digital revolution”), through its implosion, to more rational times today. It’s a rather unpretentious café of a style you might find on a quiet Manhattan street, frequented by locals. They have a few outdoor tables along the sidewalk. Inside there are about ten café tables in a relatively cramped arrangement — particularly when the weather is good and this place is packed. They open the large, sidewalk-facing windows on nice days, and there is walk-up service along Jack London Alley.

Caffe Centro from the corner of Park and Jack London Entering Caffe Centro

Using a three-group Mr. Espresso-branded Rancilio machine (though they’ve long used Vigal beans), they pull extra long, watery shots with a thinner layer of decent-looking, medium brown crema. Unfortunately the shot size can be so large at times (deep singles filled to the rim) that it waters down any flavor — leaving hints of mild spice as a sort of glorified drip coffee. Occasionally the shot will be shorter and thus have more body and fuller flavor, but that’s the exception. The local loyalties here must be for the simple food, because the coffee leaves a bit to be desired.

Read the updated review of Caffe Centro.

Caffe Centro's Rancilio The Caffe Centro espresso