Cafe Review – Bar Italia

Bar Italia

22 Frith Street, Soho, London, W1D 4RF


When I started in espresso Bar Italia was quite an inspiring place.  I was working for Gaggia and they had a massive old 4 group Gaggia lever machine.   It seemed classic, with a lovely old cash register, and so very Italian. They just seemed to turn out hundreds of coffees in an effortless way and they were better than the ones I was making.

Over the last couple of years my opinion began to change and that was rammed home by my visit today.

I really like it when a barista makes me feel welcomed.  I arrived to Bar Italia and was made to feel as if I was very much in the way, and the guys behind the bar just oozed arrogance and condescending.  The barista kindly allowed me to order a single espresso and slung a saucer in front of me whilst preparing other drinks.  I was stunned when the guy working the machine was a little short on milk for a latte and the other barista just picked it up, put it under the tea boiler and topped it up with hot water.

My espresso duly arrived and I was pretty much robbed for it.  £2 is a lot to ask for an espresso, especially when it tasted like it did.  It was clearly a pretty quick pull, and despite the massive robusta content (I could taste little else) any crema on the shot lingered only very briefly.  Harsh, watery and very bitter.  Not a good cup of coffee.  Looking at the other drinks going out the milk texture seemed pretty good, though I wasn’t really dying to taste a cappuccino.  I wouldn’t be this rude about a cafe after only one coffee but I have been several times over the last year or so and every experience has been pretty much the same.  Sorry there aren’t many pictures but they weren’t very friendly when I got the camera out and asked if it was ok.

Nice cups though.

[tags]cafe review, coffee, espresso, latte, cappuccino, barista, bar italia[/tags]

6 Comments Cafe Review – Bar Italia

  1. Paragon

    …same experience pretty much….not welcomed… felt like being robbed really, because the macchiato wasn’t great at all…. :( ….are they living on their history?

    ..haven’t been back there for over half a year… don’t feel like going too :( Vergano I was only once….but I haven’t been back really….I can see the beautiful machine via ‘window-shopping’ too……

  2. blanco

    jim, don’t you love the delicious irony of it all? you can pull shots blind that are better than theirs, and yet you get the treatment as though you’re simply one of the bourgeoisie, the hoi polloi, the unwashed masses. i get a real kick out of that.

  3. jim

    blanco – I am not quite sure what you mean by that.
    Surely you want a barista to make you feel welcome, whoever you are. I don’t want to approach cafes with an attitude of “oo, I am such an amazing barista, you had better impress me”. After all – I am just one of the unwashed masses and should never be treated any different.

  4. espressoSquirrel

    i don’t usually bother with bar italia unless everywhere else is closed, you cant get coffee at 1am anywhere else.

    but i have a friend that goes there because they are so grumpy, she thinks its funny that that they insult all the customers..

  5. blanco


    i guess i meant that it seems like something you’d see in a movie: rocky balboa walks into a gym in his later years to see an old friend. some young punk in the ring drops his mouthpiece and shouts, “hey old fart, pick that up for me and wash it off, will ya?” it drips of irony.

    of course we’re all just people. my point was that you were treated rudely. you mentioned you got the vibe that they felt you were ‘in the way’ when the reality is that you could show them a way or two if only they had gotten off their high horse and been a touch more friendly.

    anyways, hope you’re having a grand day.

  6. wonderchunder

    Shame,always fancied trying this place especially since digging out my old Pulp albums recently. I’ll give it a go and see if they’ve upped their game since the review.

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