Concluding our Espresso in Torino and Piemonte series (finally! aren’t you glad?), we’ve saved the best for last. We last visited Torino’s Caffè Mulassano in May 2004. And while we sampled many more Piemonte area cafés in our October 2007 visit, both times Caffè Mulassano came out on top for our favorite espresso in Torino. Caffè Mulassano is also one of Torino’s four cafés rated among Gambero Rosso‘s top 18 in the country.

Entrance to Caffè Mulassano Closer view of the Caffè Mulassano entrance

From the sidewalks around Piazza Castello, right across from Baratti & Milano, it appears a little less grand than some of its Torino peers. But by any American standard, it has curb appeal for miles: dark wood, antique lights, and classic Carpano branding.

Inside the baristi wear white jackets and black ties, serving customers in a tight space of mirrors and dark wood. There are a couple of sidewalk tables in front and not a lot more table seating inside. Even at having your espresso at the bar leaves little space, given how much of their limited counter tops are covered in things to drink or eat. Add the mirrored walls and the usual matron at the side register looking down on everything, and the place almost has a fun house feel.

Caffè Mulassano's full bar -- hence 'barista' Limited table seating by the Caffè Mulassano register

They use a two-group Ariete machine. But when we asked about it, they dismissed the importance of the machine; they claim the quality here is all in the miscela (or coffee blend…if only that we’re true). Not surprisingly, they are quite proud of their own roasts.

Yet they do arguably pull the best espresso shot in town. It has a speckled, even, medium brown crema of decent thickness, a potent aroma, a medium body, and a flavor of pepper and spices. Served in Mulassano-logo ACF cup. Very reasonable at €1.

Despite the fact that the best espresso in Italy generally doesn’t exactly measure up to the best in North America (in Italy, it’s all about the power of averages), Caffè Mulassano’s espresso would tie for first among San Francisco’s other café ratings. Check out the updated summary of our espresso in Torino and Piemonte ratings.

And read the updated review of Caffè Mulassano.

Coffee grinders at Caffè Mulassano The Caffè Mulassano espresso

One last, higher-resolution look at the entrance to Caffè Mulassano