A sweet, accessible marriage of modern and Old World charm: Am I describing the coffee in Florence, or the city itself? Both, actually.
Known not only for its staggeringly beautiful art and architecture but also its vibrant cuisine, Florence has got basically everything going for it. You want ancient churches and cobblestones? Sure. High-end shopping districts full of fashion by the hottest Italian designers? No problem. Luscious olive oils and wines made the way now that they have been for generations? Yup.
And how about awesome coffee? Plenty of that, too.
Actually, my hands-down favorite espresso from this Italian adventure was Florentine, pulled for me within steps of the Duomo at Caffe Scudieri, by a man who bore a startling resemblance to Jeff Goldblum. It was everything I'd fantasized Tuscan-style espresso dolce to be: Milk chocolaty sweetness was followed by a bit of toasted nut in the finish, a long aftertaste encouraged by a caramel-smooth texture that coated my tongue like a hug.
The cafe itself is none too shabby, either: Long glass pastry cases are as overstuffed with treats as the cream puffs are with cream, and the marble bar is perpetually lined with locals and tourists happily cohabitating for the few minutes required to down a velvety cappuccino and polish off a custardy fruit tart. Constant and friendly attention from a small army of baristas makes for quick turnover and great people-watching, and before I knew it I had planted myself for fully four shots of espresso—and that was just on my first visit. (I went back three times.)
Caffe Scudieri FirenziPiazza San Giovanni 19, Florence, Italy 50129 (map); 011-39-055-210-733
About the author: Erin Meister trains baristas and inspires coffee-driven people for Counter Culture Coffee. She's a confident barista, an audacious eater, and a smiling runner, but she remains a Nervous Cook.