Established on this spot in 1955, Paolina’s operated as Carmel’s oldest running Italian restaurant for over 50 years. It was little more than a cafeteria-style indoor food counter, though they used a decorative, three-group, manual, brass eagle Rancilio machine with “Paolina’s” detailed on the back. The espresso may not have been memorable, but their machine certainly was.

Fast-forward to 2009: Paolina’s owners sold the business, the operators lost interest, and a new inhabitant took over. Carmel Belle — or just “Belle” at times, depending on the signage — promotes a heavy local and organic theme. They offer no dinner service and primarily serve breakfasts, soups, salads, and sandwiches with the “Carmel Belle-iefs: simple, fresh, local & organic = yummy”.

The young, fresh, and frugal set worship this place — almost irrationally so. The simple, basic quality of the goods here are definitely worth a visit. Just that it is nothing so special to fawn over, as many do, in this town with a lot of good food to boast.

Entrance to Carmel's Doud Craft Studios, where Carmel Belle resides Counter and mall-court-like dining area at Carmel Belle

For espresso service, they use a new, shiny two-group Faema Due at the counter. Their single espresso is served as a huge shot in a large Mr. Espresso-logo Nuova Point cup. It is truly a doppio.

Even so, it comes with a rich, congealed, mottled medium brown crema with lighter spots. And despite its size, it is not at all diluted or overextracted (a true double shot). The flavor may not be watery, but it is not very potent either. This could be due to the age of their bean stocks, even though the healthy crema suggests it is rather fresh.

It has a smooth flavor of some mild wood and spice. On the downside, the flavor is subtle enough to be lost if you add milk to it. Still, it’s one of the best shots in town.

Read the review of Carmel Belle in Carmel, CA.

The Carmel Belle Faema Due, hidden behind Mr. Espresso pots and iced tea service The Carmel Belle espresso