Our Espresso in Torino and Piemonte series continues with a visit to a Piemonte-based chain of roaster/cafés, called Casa del Caffè Vergnano. Caffè Vergnano has opened 16 roaster/cafés throughout Europe, located in cities as varied as Torino, Milan, Nice, Munich, Düsseldorf, London, one we stopped at in Asti (rated 2 chicchi and 2 tazzine in the 2008 Bar d’Italia del Gambero Rosso ), and one in Alba we’ll review here.
Past the bags of unroasted green beans in front with a large Petroncini roaster, you follow an unusual custom for this area but one that’s common for most of Italy: paying first at the separate register (la cassa). At the rear of the café they have extensive, rather upscale seating and food service. Just before it is an espresso bar with dueling two-group Elektra machines.
This place is particularly popular with Alba’s weekend tourists. They serve espresso with a decent, coagulated layer of medium brown crema — albeit somewhat thin in size. The thin body in the cup, however, doesn’t hold up as well. It also has a flavor of medium spices. It’s clearly a good cup — but this kind of local, on-site roasting raises your expectations for freshness, the fullness of the crema and flavor, etc. But instead, it serves as proof that local roasting isn’t apparently everything, and Italian consumers seem to believe that. Offered at a not unreasonable €0.90.
Read the review of Casa del Caffè Vergnano.
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