As the first stop of our morning, we’d heard the cakes were great at Gran Caffe Cimmino and so headed there to pair our espressos with something sweet. The cakes in Naples seem somehow made for espresso, they’re lighter and more delicate than the chocolate brownies and red velvet cakes of home. Here they serve mini fragolines, custard tarts topped with wild strawberries and lemon shortcake biscuits amongst other delicious selections.
The espresso here sticks to the similar traditions of its rivals, hand pulled on a San Marco lever machine. Served on the ubiquitous marble top standing counter with a glass of water, although in Cimmino’s case there is outside seating available for those that wish to sit in the morning sun.
The espresso here arrived with aromas of nuts and caramel smelling sweet like pastry cream with notes of dark chocolate. This shot was slightly longer than some of the ones I’d had with a thick dark crema. Beginning very dark and bitter before opening up into biscuit with some background lemon acidity and a mouthfeel like molasses. Somewhat similar to the lemon shortbread cake that had arrived, which I promise I didn’t eat before hand.
Vico Del Vasto
Looking very upmarket from the outside Gran Caffe La Caffettiera is probably one of the fanciest of Naple’s espresso stops. Not content with just serving quality espresso, waiters can be found ferrying expensive champagne to their wealthy clientele sat outside. On the inside however we had the standing espresso bar to ourselves where we were served fizzy water on draught rather than still water from the tap.
Serving three types of Kimbo espresso pulled on another lever machine, we ordered two espressos and let the barista decide the blend. Arriving as a shortish length shot with a thick light coloured crema it had sweet and acidic aromas of caramel and grapefruit. To taste it had a grapefruit acidity with the sweetness of fruit sugar, with only very light bitterness and hints of digestive biscuit. The mouthfeel was somewhat different here, it was very smooth like soft and fluffy caramel syrup, a lot less full on than most Neapolitan espresso.
Piazza Del Martiri, 26
There are two Moccias very close to each other in the same neighbourhood, the trick is to get the right one, it’s the one with a lot of cakes and pasticceria for sale. Run by an old Italian couple, at least on the day we were there anyway, the place has the feel of a real neighbourhood cafe with a homeliness all of its own. Here we were about to embark on a Neapolitan class in espresso, unknown to us.
Struggling with the menu a little we ordered a caffe caldo and a cafe fredo, that’s a hot coffee and a cold coffee to you and me. The hot coffee being of course espresso and the cold coffee being somewhat like a coffee slush puppie or a shakerato crossed with granita. Barely had I sipped my espresso which had caramel and biscuit notes than the barista began his class in Neapolitan espresso, with a smile on his face I might add.
First came the addition of a rather large spoonful of sugary cream added to the espresso. Somewhat like adding sweetened condensed milk to espresso, it changed the espresso into somewhat of a liqueur or a dessert. He wasn’t about to stop there though.
Next came the spoon of sugar cream added to the caffe fredo, turning it into a coffee cream granita. I’m not sure these could be called coffees anymore, they definitely tasted like coffee flavoured sweets now.
Continuing this theme he then topped up both cup and glass with what I think was coffee flavoured ice cream. By this point coffee was the background, not the dominant flavour. While all this was going on, not one of the other customers batted an eye lid, as strange and exciting as this was for us, this was clearly commonplace amongst Neapolitans. Finally finishing our drinks, we smiled, said thank you and made our way out, the class had been exciting than any espresso would have been.
Via S. Pasquale, 21
There are eight Mexico coffee shops in Naples all serving Passalacqua coffee, the most famous probably being the one in Piazza Dante, it was our last morning however and the one in Piazza Municipio was close to the bus stop for the airport bus. Perfectly placed to allow us to fill our last morning with espresso and Neapolitan cakes.
By this point we were ordering caffe fredos and caffe caldos like regulars and paired them with almond croissants and sugar ring doughnuts to ward off the necessity of airport food. The espresso arrived with sweet floral aromas and smelt clean. To taste it began with some over roasted bitterness, which was probably down to a very thick medium coloured crema, but opened into some limey fruit acidity with some toast and sour grapefruit and the usual syrupy mouthfeel. Sadly this would be our last espresso in Naples.
Piazza Municipio, 73