Our Espresso in Torino and Piemonte series now heads for the remote Piemontese town of Sommariva del Bosco — a rural town of less than 6,000 residents, considered to be the gateway to the Roero region. But despite its remote location and small town stature, the gelateria/bar/confectioner Strumia has helped put this location on the Italian map.

OK, so maybe only the Italian maps of crackpot espresso hunters like myself. The 2008 Bar d’Italia del Gambero Rosso has honored it as one of the top 18 coffee bars in Italy (awarded both 3 tazzine and 3 chicchi), and it is the only coffee bar that has made that list for five years running.

Strumia's storefront Strumia's Faema behind the counter

Yet the café, and the town, are still very much local secrets. Unlike other towns we visited in Piemonte, virtually no one spoke English here. And our first meeting with the local color involved a disabled couple who literally stumbled into the street, and needed minor medical attention, over the excitement of seeing stranieri (foreigners) in the town centro. (They were going to be OK, fortunately.)

Strumia is an eponymous reference to its owner and proprietor, Tonino Strumia — himself quite a local character. As you might expect from a successful, small town proprietor who loves his trade and has been in business for 30 years, the man simply cannot stop talking. And he also cannot stop offering you samples — specialties of the Roero region as sold in the shop: sweets, gelato, candies, chocolate, pastries, etc. Nothing you can make a meal out of; that’s not the point here. But stay long enough, and Tonino will fill you up with an endless supply of his artisan samples.

Some of the edibles within Strumia that are bound to become store samples for you Tonino Strumia himself makes selections of things for you to try

And, of course, there’s the espresso. Inside, Strumia is decorated in dark brown wood with a couple of small tables. Using a two-group Faema, they serve espresso with a tiger striped/spotted crema of modest thickness. It has a bold, pungent (cloves, thyme), concentrated flavor. Served in Illy designer IPA cups. Table service and still just €0.90.

Read the review of Strumia.

The Strumia espresso 'Downtown' Sommariva del Bosco