Bar Italia

Keith Parkins
Jul 18, 2017 · 3 min read
Bar Italia in Soho

In the back of Real Fresh Coffee are two pages, easily missed, of famous cafés, only five listed, of which Bar Italia in Soho is one.

Bar Italia in Soho

Established in 1949 by Lou and Caterina Polledri, Bar Italia in Soho is claimed to be the oldest coffee shop in London.

It was from here on 26 January 1926 at 22 Frith Street, though not then a coffee shop, John Logie Baird made his first TV broadcast, the first TV broadcast in the world.

It took me a while to find Frith Street in Soho then Bar Italia.

Italians are infamous for awful coffee, and were it not for the mention in Real Fresh Coffee, I would not have sought it out, and even then it was with trepidation, wondering was this to be another wasted journey when pushed for time.

Walking through the door, very much entering a time warp, 1950s, or maybe 1960s, then ruined by the large widescreen TV occupying most of the back wall.

Italian coffee is that awful coffee found in Costa and tax dodging Caffe Nero.

I ordered a cappuccino, expecting the worse, look awful, made with chocolate dumped on top to disguise how awful.

cappuccino

I was pleasantly surprised, a well crafted cappuccino.

A pleasant late afternoon, very warm, a helpful waitress escorted me to a table outside an Italian restaurant.

cappuccino

What did it taste like?

It was excellent. One of the best coffees in London.

Inside, a wide range of delicious looking cakes, and savoury food too.

Next time, maybe lunch here.

An ancient cash till, equally ancient Gaggia espresso machine, maybe both original when the coffee shop opened.

signed poster of Rocky Marciano

On the back wall, a large signed poster of Rocky Marciano, donated by his widow.

I asked of the coffee. Their own blend roasted for them.

Very much old Soho, much of which greed has destroyed in the last decade.

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Musings on all things coffee and occasionally tea

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