ceoloide wrote:Remember: whatever I said above is anecdotal, Italy is a very diverse country with many local variations. What rings true to an Italian from Milan would sound alien to an Italian from Naples.
Based on this I'd like to throw in my experience from Rome a couple of years ago. Unfortunately I was staying near the tourist malls of the city's historic center, so I may have been far from where serious locals would go. But nevertheless all the espresso (and most of the gelato) I had was good. And I had both every day. I can't say the same thing about the food, but that's another story.
I noticed that the coffee was extremely consistent from one bar to another. Basically the same flavor profile everywhere (medium-dark roast, emphasis on chocolate and caramel sweetness, a lot of clarity, not a lot of body or complexity). It was all consistently good, and completely satisfying, although none of it was exciting.
I'd previously spent 10 days in Paris where all the espresso was bad—thin, one-dimensional, bitter, careless.
In my home city in NYC, the average espresso is much worse than the average espresso in Rome. But it's all over the place in terms of style and flavors. And the very best espressos I have here are much better than anything I had there—lighter roasts with dazzling, three-dimensional fruitiness and aroma, big sweet foundation, and body for days. But this isn't fair, because I've had much more opportunity to find the great places here. In Rome I was just dropping into random bars and hoping for the best.