Leonardo Santetti: Coffee Insurrection Hero Chapter #32

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Leonardo Santetti: Coffee Insurrection Hero Chapter #32

Coffee Insurrection
1- Introduce yourself: who are you, where are you from, where do you work and what’s    your job.

Ciao, I’m Leonardo Santetti and I came from Florence, Tuscany. I’m currently working as a Designer, R&D and coffee consultant for Eureka Grinders as well as teaching Brewing and Green Coffee for the SCA. Parallel to this, I’ve developed some coffee related projects in the past few years, including the most recent one: The Italian Specialty Coffee Guide.

2- When and why did coffee become important to you?

I’ve started as a regular barista back in school as a way to earn some money in my weekends. Then in 2013 a specialty coffee school opened in Scandicci nearby where I live, and was at that time that coffee became a central part of my life. I’ve started volunteering there, eventually making assistance, attending classes and helping in any way possible. Little by little I started collaborating with different realities as barista, designer, teacher and so on, achieving the coffee diploma while finishing my university and increasing the work in coffee and my approach to this field in the last 8 years.

3- Do you remember the first coffee you had that was more than “just a cup of coffee”?
Yup, I was attending a sensory class and I had the typical “mind explosion” when you finally got something that you “know” but you never really absorbed inside as a true reality. So I thought something like: “Woa, I really would like to keep going and working in a scene where I can touch, taste and feel something like this on a daily base, something that makes me happy!”.
4- What’s your favorite thing about going to work in the morning?
To be able to contribute, in my little own, in making something good for people, helpful and related to Design and Coffee, my two main fields and passions that are almost completely blended so far.
5- What’s your favorite brewing method and why?
I honestly love to brew coffee, it’s a peculiarity of the coffee world that I really appreciate and that help me relaxing sometimes, it’s like a ritual, almost close to the tea ceremony, in a way. I like V60 as it’s simple and intuitive, a tool not too much expensive and also cool in the design, although the Chemex is aesthetically very pleasant as well.
6- Which is the best coffee you ever tasted?
Difficult to answer as there are really many good ones around, and often you find yourself tasting a better one. But for sure I remember a stunning Panama Geisha (surprise eh) from Aunty Peg’s in Melbourne, as well as the very recent explosion of eugenioides that I’ve got the chance to try during WCC in Milan 2021: it’s for real a next level coffee.
7- Is there a country of origin that you tend to favor coffee from? Why?
This question can have many answers according to why I would choose a country of origin: If it’s for a particular variety or cultivar, average coffee taste profile, economic, affection and so on. The first that comes to my mind anyway would be Honduras, maybe because it’s a combination of the possible variables just mentioned before, as well as because I’ve got the chance to be in this stunning place and to empathize with the people and the realities there.

8- Suggest us a rostery to check (not the one you working at/you use at work).
Oh, well, if I suggest one then I would feel guilty because I could have suggest others or I didn’t suggest more:) So, instead of saying an Italian one (otherwise some Italian fellows would have prefer to suggest their) I would like to propose to you Backstage Coffee (Vilnius, Lithuania), a great company with which I had the honor of collaborate when I used to live in Vilnius. They are good people, cool, and great coffee roasters and passionate people.
9- What’s the most important things you’ve learnt while working in the business?
That you have to remain yourself, keep spreading genteelness and kindness but at the same time you have to grow, be hardened in the character, and to don’t trust everyone.
Many people, and not only in coffee, can be fake, sneaky or traitors, so you have to beware a bit. But at the same time there are luckily many good hearted people as well, so we have to keep seeing the positivity everywhere.

10- How your work and the specialty coffee world are coping with Covid and the new challenges for hospitality?
Under the economic point of view it can mean: survive mood.  This historical time give not much room to expand or grow, but often just to maintain and resist. So there can be a cut somewhere, hoping not in the quality, but this can change according to the reality. Meanwhile, for the hospitality point of view, it can also mean creativity, or reinventing themselves. But we have to keep in mind that people are already becoming tired of this social distancing condition, so it’s also true that it can either result in less people going to public cafes, as well as the opposite: an escape solution for a couple of hour from office and home, that in these time can be seen as a limitation.
11- How do you see the specialty coffee scene in 10 years?
Growing a lot, until a certain point (it cannot and have not to grow more than 10% of the whole sector, it’s unreal and unsustainable). And at the same time not in the 100% meaning of specialty/high quality coffee, at least not in Italy. What I would like to say with this statement is that the meaning and perception of the words “Specialty Coffee” and “High quality Coffee” (how I prefer to call it), are very different in Italy from the world perception. A long topic that I would like to explain more in another occasion but overall it means that the quality of coffee will increase also in Italy, as well as the share of specialty, but not only into 80+ crops.
12- Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
I hope to be able to continue working in the field of the specialty/high quality coffees, most of all to have my own studio of design in the coffee field at 360°, an idea for which I’m currently work on. Then who knows, the fields in the coffee industry are different, but this can be a possibility that I would like to achieve. :)
13- Any last word? Any tip or suggestion you wanna share with someone that want to start this path?
Be patient, especially at the beginning, choose wisely your mentors, protect your character and sensibility understanding that there are plenty of fake person in this world as well as “only appearance” oriented people. Then keep going on, never stop at the first difficulty, the fruits of your seeding will arrive when you’ll aspect them less (feels like a cliché, but is true). Last but not least, cultivate your passion and love for this stunning raw material and the community, do to others what you want others do to you and always keep smiling and being gentle.
Btw, if you are reading this article while passing by Florence, you can drop me a message if you want. In case I’ll be around and it would be nice to share some coffee talks.


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