Our Espresso in Torino and Piemonte series returns to Alba, Italy. We really liked Caffè Calissano and wish we had an institution like it somewhere in SF. If it were here, its espresso would rank it in the top quartile of the city. But in Alba, comparatively, it served some of the “worst” espresso we had in town. Now doesn’t that speak volumes?

Entrance to Caffè Calissano under the porticos Fashionable silver shoes on display inside Caffè Calissano

Rancilio at the Caffè Calissano bar Caffè Calissano's pastry case has gone empty!

Located on Alba’s main “Piazza Duomo” (and near the fabulous restaurant of the same name), this ornamental café carries grand café style. In addition to some outdoor seating under the porticos, there’s a sidewalk seating area entirely enclosed in glass — much like Piazza Duomo’s excellent sister trattoria, La Piola, next door. Inside there is a mirrored bar, dark wood lining everywhere, plenty of Italian café reading materials to choose from, and the necessary servings of gelato, pastries, etc. The Bar d’Italia di Gambero Rosso awarded it with 2 tazzine and 2 chicchi. It is arguably the most distinguished, traditional café in town.

Using a four-group Rancilio and a Mazzer grinder, they pull espresso shots with a mottled medium-to-darker brown crema. It has a richer aroma, but a thinner body despite its modest serving size. With a lightly toasted flavor of spices. Their milk frothing consists of good microfoam, but it’s applied sparingly on milk-based drinks (something of an Italian cultural habit/expectation). Served in designer Mokafè IPA cups celebrating Italy’s Le Langhe and Il Roero regions. A bit pricey at €1.20.

Read the review of Caffè Calissano.

Two Caffè Calissano espressos at the bar Caffè Calissano barista making a cappuccino at the Rancilio

The Caffè Calissano cappuccino The Caffè Calissano espresso