Pardon the punctuation... This entry marks the first of many to come from my recent trip to Europe. I have decided to write chronologically about my trip and that starts with Rome, Italy. For those of you who have never been to Italy, Italians are not just famous for their pasta. Coffee is an institution over there and the place you choose to have your espresso can create as heated an argument as you can have about politics. My two favorite coffee shops in Rome are Tazza D'Oro and Sant' Eustachio. When in Rome you must try both of these spots and the best part is that they are about a two minute walk from each other. The bad part is that you'll end up wanting to go to both of them multiple times a day and be hopped up on caffeine for your entire trip. Lets start with Tazza D'Oro. Right across the street from the Pantheon is this famed place that was established in 1946 and has been serving their famed "La Regina dei Caffe" blend almost as long. The things to order here are the espresso and the "Granita di Cafe." It's worth paying for a flight to Rome just to experience these two. This place is always packed and make sure you pay at the cashier before you walk up to the espresso bar. Hand them your receipt at the bar and watch them work their magic. Like an Olympic synchronized swimming team, the baristas are dancing behind the counter and making multiple orders and they always seem to know where the other one is without running into him. Dark, rich, and aromatic is how I would best describe the espresso. It hits your tongue and envelopes you with flavor and is just pure satisfaction. The "Granita di Cafe" is made from a frozen block of that same espresso, shaved into a slush, and then topped with fresh whipped cream. It's the perfect thing to get you going on a hot afternoon. Now Sant' Eustachio. Since 1938 the image of a white stag with horns means one thing in Rome. That stag is the mosaic you see on the ground as you cross the threshold into this iconic coffee shop. Not only is the mosaic original but so is their coffee roaster which they have been using since 1948 and roasts the secret blend over a wood fire. Neat stuff. All this would mean jack shit if the coffee sucked but it does not. In fact it rocks. It rocks so much that they have a panel blocking the barista and machine on either side to keep you from seeing the secret way in which they make a coffee. The secret they are trying to keep is the way they manage to put a thick layer of sweet coffee foam on the top of every espresso beverage. It's pretty bad-ass. It's the Honey Badger of espresso foam. You must order the "Gran Caffe" on your visit which is basically a larger creamier version of an espresso. An important thing to know before you go is that if you decide to use table service be prepared to pay an additional 1.5 euros per item that you order. Kind of a rip off if you ask me. Just order from the counter you only pay the regular price for any item. Needless to say, I went to the counter. No use in paying double for a coffee just so you can sit. Finally the moment of truth....which one is the best. I have to say that this is a complete draw. They are so different that it's hard to compare them in that sense. If you're in the mood for a darker of a roast Tazza D'Oro is the place for you. If you fancy a sweeter espresso then make your way over to Sant' Eustachio. Either way they are so close to one another that you can just hop between the two and try them both. At the end of the day I say that Tazza D'Oro is more to my taste and I find the overall experience of being there a little batter than Sant' Eustachio. Every coffee lover should get their hands on some of both and take the "Pepsi Challenge" themselves.