Bar Italia has been in Frith Street, Soho, since 1949 and is an Italian family run coffee bar. Stepping inside is like entering a bar in Italy, except that many of those in the home country have much more modern decor. Here in Soho it is like stepping back in time, but that is also part of the charm. One of the bar's dominant features is the giant television at the far end. Italians are well known for their fanatical love of football and this TV screens all the important matches.
Looking Down to the Far End of Bar Italia and the Television Screen
Far more important than the television is of course the coffee. Although you don't have to go far these days to find a coffee bar or a coffee shop, they are all inspired by Italian espresso and cappuccino. Bar Italia serves their coffees just as they would do back in Italy. A cup of espresso is always strong and contains no more than a couple of gulps of the brown nectar. Of course none of the baristas ever ask if you want a double as that would never happen in Italy. I'm ashamed to admit that I've never drunk their cappuccino. Italian etiquette dictates that milky coffee is not drunk after 11 in the morning, and I've only ever been there in the afternoon or evening.
Whatever your Taste in Coffee it's always Coffee Time
The general ethos at Bar Italia is 'if it ain't broke, don't mend it'. For this reason, they still retain their fifty-year-old Gaggia coffee machine and use the same blend of coffee that they have used since the early days. They even have a classic old cash register for taking the money. The £2.20 in the display was the cost of the espresso that I'd just drunk.
Café culture is around us everywhere we turn. Instead of buying your coffee from a shop in a chain, give Bar Italia a try next time you're in Soho. I'm sure you'll agree that their drinks are superb and you may even forget, for a few minutes, that you're actually in London.
Inside Bar Italia and the Painting on the Wall of the Bar