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Time for a coffee? Back to News
Thursday 07th September | Posted by Simon Scutt
A recent request for recommendations for good coffee shops on our routes set us thinking about the best spots to re-caffeinate.
And where better to start than Italy, in the Eternal City of Rome. After four days of walking in the Sabine Hills, the bustling city could be a bit of a culture shock, but “when in Rome, do as the Romans do” – drink coffee!
The locals will gulp down a quick espresso at the counter, but the creators of Faro (Via Piave 55) prefer to slow things down a bit, taking time to explore the identities of coffee-producing nations through the characteristics of their brews. They select Arabica coffee from single plantations which are all certified by the Speciality Coffee Association of America and Europe, picked by hand. Oh, and there are plenty of delicious pastries and light meals to indulge in as you watch the world go by.
Also in Rome is Tazza d’oro (Via degli Orfani 84), which has been serving coffee near the Pantheon since the 1940s. It’s famous for its iced granita with whipped cream layers (well, you’ve earned it after all that walking), and boasts a secret recipe for its Regina blend that has been handed down through three generations. Its website claims that the café “is renowned for having the best coffee of the world” – you decide!
Meanwhile, in Andalucía at 10 o’clock (yes 10, not 9.30 or 10.30) working people take a break for breakfast. And the most popular way of filling that morning gap is with a café con leche y una tostada – coffee and toast. Spanish coffee is superb and comes from Italian-style espresso machines – they’re an essential part of any Spanish bar – whilst your tostada is generally served with either olive oil, tomato and garlic or paté or lard. Guy, our route adviser, recommends his favourite coffee spot in Ronda, which walkers of our Andalucía route can try out on the final day of their holiday. Bar Maestro is a tiny tapas bar on Ronda’s main pedestrian shopping street, La Calle de la Bola, a few yards from the town’s famous bullring. Arrive at breakfast time and you’ll need to weave your way to the bar, where Rafa treats foreigners and locals with his customary good grace.
At the other end of Spain, our Basque Country walk brings you to Bilbao, where you can visit Café Iruña (Colón de Larreátegui 13) in the heart of the town. Try the old style Spanish coffee and cakes, surrounded by Alhambra-style decor, with added high heels and lap-dogs (not compulsory).
Many of the walkers on our Northern Portugal route take the chance to explore the city of Porto at the end of their holiday. Here you will find Armazem do Caffe (Rua Sá da Bandeira 100-102), with a great selection of freshly roasted coffee beans from around the world, and a special emphasis on ex-Portuguese colonies such as Timor, Mozambique, Angola and Brazil. Or try Majestic Café (Rua Santa Catarina 112) – this fabulously ornate Belle Époque café is said to be one of the most beautiful in Europe, with lots of gleaming brass, crisp white table linen, and a tinkling piano.
The Greeks have a different approach to coffee – very strong and sweet, with no machines involved in the brewing process (none of your “Italian rubbish” here!). After walking the Vikos Gorge in northwest Greece you will arrive in the village of Papingo, where the extraordinary Sterna shop/cafe makes perfect Greek coffee served with hand-made biscuits with almonds and raisins. Watch the world go by in this magical corner of the remote Greek mountains on the Albanian border.
Finally, we can’t ignore the home of On Foot Holidays – the lovely cathedral city of Salisbury, where walkers begin the Dorset route. Helpfully situated on the way to the station for the short ride to the first day’s walk is Culture Coffee (69 Fisherton Street), which has become a convenient On Foot Holidays’ staff club. Expect comfortable sofas and congenial service in this trendy but highly enthusiastic indie bar. They would die rather than serve a duff one – which we think matches the philosophy of On Foot perfectly!