Celestial coffee


An image of the inverse proportion between quantity and quality.

This is a drastic departure from one of my most deeply held beliefs about my blog, which is to make no recommendations about any commercial enterprise or product.  I make plenty of recommendations about behavior, but so far I’ve never mentioned any person or object that was involved in making money.

But the Time has Come to change that.  This once.  For the simple reason that it just seems wrong to me to keep this place to myself.  And since I consider anyone reading these lines as a friend — don’t worry, I’m not going to come visit for the weekend — I would have brought you to this place personally if you were in town. Even if you do come to Venice, you can skip me and just follow the instructions below to a bar/cafe whose coffee is provided by the heavenly host, by means of two women who act like it’s normal to brew something that only the angels are accustomed to drinking.

Even if you don’t care about espresso — I’m going to say, even if you hate espresso — you will be thunderstruck by the ambrosial quality of this liquid. I’m not going to attempt a description because it will make me sound stupid, though I will say its quality is a dazzling blend of aroma, flavor, and texture.  Hard to get even one of those to rise above the average.  So far, it’s been impossible, even here, in the homeland of coffee, to taste something which gets all three of them totally right.

Lino and I go to the Rialto Market at least once a week, and even if we have no intention of buying anything, we have every intention of stopping here for coffee. The trip could therefore never be called a waste of time.

I want you to go to this place the next time you’re in Venice.  If you don’t agree that their coffee is exceptional, I’d like you to tell me what you think is better.  I’d really be curious.

It just occurred to me: If they ever thought about making coffee-flavored gelato, they could rule the world.

The cafe is called L'ERBARIA, because it's in the fruit-and-vegetable section of the Rialto market. Like many shops, its name is nowhere to be seen. So all I can tell you is to go to the corner of Calle de le Donzelle and Campo de la Pescaria.

I’ve never thought to ask their names. Does it matter? It’s enough for me that they’re there and that the machine is turned on.

L'Erbaria is at the corner of C.po de la Pescaria and Calle de le Donzelle. If you come by vaporetto, get off at the "Rialto Mercato" stop, take your first right, and it's at the next street, on your left.

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Categories : Venetian Food


  1. Andrew says:

    We will go next time we’re in Venice. I like to go for a machiato in the Caffe Bar ai Artisti in Campo San Barnaba. Lovely too.

  2. Erla says:

    I presume you’re referring to their coffee, and not the ambiance? Because the duo at L’Erbaria could be selling their brew in a rusty quonset hut and it wouldn’t matter to me. In any case, I’m curious to hear from any and all readers where they find their favorite java in Venice, regardless of setting.

  3. John Servente says:

    Interesting you mention L’erbaria. It is our favourite place to have a coffee when we visit the market at Rialto. I do like the coffee and the service is great. The food looks good, but we have not actually tried it as we generally have a trolley full of fish and vegetables that we want to get back home. We just need a little pick me up before the journey and L’erbaria hits the spot. I do get a bit jealous of the locals who are having a glass of wine at 11:30. As we were leaving the last time, someone yelled in the doorway, “set up our three please” and I am sure the staff knew exactly what was wanted. We have tried other coffee bars in Rialto with variable results, so it is definitely our local.

    • Erla says:

      I’m glad to know you’ve discovered this haven. But why are you jealous of the locals who ae having a glass of wine at 11:30? Aren’t you allowed?

  4. John Servente says:

    This is off topic. I note that the time posted on my comment is exactly 7 hours too early. It is not a time problem with my computer, so it must be server side. Or the blog server is located in a different time zone. This comment can be eliminated. Thanks.

  5. Bruce Miller says:

    Hi Erla,
    Maureen leaves tomorrow for 10 days in Venice. I will instruct her to have a coffee at the bar you reommend. I will have to delay gratification until Septmeber.
    Best to you and Lino

  6. Yvonne says:

    OK, next time I’m in your town, I’ll give them a try, but for a macchiatone. And, you can stay at my place for a week-end, if you want to!
    Yvonne recently posted..Portals

    • Erla says:

      I think you should have an espresso first. I’m all for adding milk to coffee, but it pretty much blunts, smothers, and otherwise disguises the flavor of the coffee, by which I mean it could be just any old java there under the foam. But by all means, go. Thanks for the invite to your place. Can we make waffles?

  7. Zoe says:

    I agree with you on this statement, ‘If they ever thought about making coffee-flavored gelato, they could rule the world”. Truly, L’ERBARIA’s offerings are so heavenly.
    Zoe recently piano sheet music

  8. Oooh Oooh. You’ve combined two of my favorite things… coffee and traveling (well you’re referring to Venice, but that’s close enough right?)

    My wife have yet to visit Italy, but we’re hoping that we’ll be able to next summer. We’ve had to pretty much cancel all of our trips this year due to our little boy having some complications, but he’s getting better and a European trip is just what the doctor ordered. I’m going to book mark this page because if we ever visit Venice I’m going to make it a point to stop in here.

    Thanks for the wonderful post!
    chris@french press recently posted..Best French Press: Guide To Getting Started Today

  9. Nora Young
    Twitter: daphtbat

    Am in Venice for my first visit and have found your great blog on researching the commemorative plaque for Luigi Giacopino by a bridge … We felt the same as you on reading of the occasion for the memorial. Now we are going to L’erbaria for our coffee tomorrow avoiding gondolas at all costs! Thanks so much for the brilliant blog!

    • Erla Zwingle says:

      Thanks for the encouraging response. But you might rethink the gondola — if you get a good gondolier, it can be a wonderful experience. Afternoon is better than morning, because there’s less traffic. But anyway, you’ve got your coffee to keep you happy!

      • Nora Young
        Twitter: daphtbat

        We did think the coffee in the L’erbaria was superb … We also enjoyed risotto. PM found us in the fish market once the fish had been sold! Artists enjoy empty spaces and the light there-in! Then experienced the demonstration on the Rialto Bridge in protest against the privatisation of the Casino. Many whistles from the Gondoliers. Privatisation is obviously an international worry …. A big concern for our Health Service in the UK. Can I attach a photo of the banner for you? You probably have it though. Tomorrow will find us home bound but full of Venesian light for future work. Could also mention the graffiti here ….. Have you blogged about this?

        • Erla Zwingle says:

          I haven’t blogged about graffiti because whatever one could say about it here would be what one could say about it anywhere. It is rarely inflicted by tourists; most of what we see on walls are either declarations of undying love, as per usual in the world, or execrations vowing undying hatred of the person named or his/her relatives, or mostly inane political slogans (“bomb the multinationals” is one example), mainly bestowed by students, as per usual. It’s stupid, it’s hard to clean, when you do clean, more just shows up. Only rarely is the perpetrator caught, and even more rarely punished. That’s about it.

  10. Samantha says:

    Thanks for the post. It is really nice about celestial coffee. But I like espresso only. It’s my favorite coffee. I love this too much.

    • Erla Zwingle says:

      I’m not sure what you mean by “but” you only like espresso. That’s what’s pictured in the cup — that’s what I drink too. Anyway, I’m glad you liked it.