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The espresso bar at Caffe del Doge in Venice. [Photograph: Meister]

This picture-perfect city might have canals and gondolas aplenty, but it doesn't seem to be teeming with great coffee. Look hard enough, though, and you might find a decent espresso shot just about anywhere...

Though I passed by the alley it's on about four times before noticing the sign, Caffe del Doge is a can't-miss coffee oasis in a town packed with tourist traps. Not that Doge is immune—the brand has been multiplied and franchised in more than 25 countries—but it remains one of the only places in town where I encountered single origin espressos and clean steam wands.

My espresso—a single-origin 100% Arabica Colombian that cost a whopping-by-Italian-standards 2.5 EUR (about $3, though the vast majority of espresso in the country is 1 EUR or less)—was acidic and light, and the barista who pulled it gave me a shy smile when I thanked her for it. Just as Caffe del Doge was a safe space away from the overpriced Robusta-heavy coffees on every corner and in every piazza, it was a refreshing departure to be served by an Italian whose English isn't better than mine, and to be transported at long last to the "different world" I had come here in search of.

Grazie, Caffe del Doge. Turns out you're the only coffee merchant of Venice I needed.

Caffe del Doge
609 S. Polo, Venice, Italy 30125 (map); 011-041-241-7301, caffedeldoge.com


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.

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