Published by Tanya in Coffee Insurrection Hero · 10 December 2021
Tags: Specialty_Coffee_Italy, Andrew, Italy
Tags: Specialty_Coffee_Italy, Andrew, Italy
1- Introduce yourself: who are you, where are you from, where do you work and what’s your job.
Hello, I’m Andrew, I was born in New Zealand and grew up in Australia and have been living in Italy for over 10 years. I built and manage Specialty Coffee Italy, a website dedicated to helping people discover the best coffee roasters and cafes in Italy. It's a project I do in my spare time as my day-to-day job is managing digital technology solutions for a humanitarian organisation.
2- When and why did coffee become important to you?
Growing up in Australia, quality coffee was always part of my social fabric, meeting friends out for a flat white on the weekends. Coffee began to become more important to me when I started working as a barista, where I became more familiar with different styles of coffee. Since leaving Australia and moving to southern Europe coffee has really become ingrained in my daily life.
3- Do you remember the first coffee you had that was more than “just a cup of coffee”?
It was a high altitude, washed Columbian from an Australian roastery. As a filter coffee it was super sweet, had a sparkling acidity with an elegant body. It really set me down the path of filter coffee and experimenting with different specialty coffees for home brewing.
4- What’s your favorite thing about going to work in the morning?
I really love to read emails and messages of appreciation for the project. It's always nice to hear from people about having discovered a new Italian specialty coffee roastery they loved or a new cafe they found while on their holiday. These messages of encouragement are very satisfying, like a funny one I received the other month that was simply "Thank you for existing". People seem to appreciate the project for its carefully selected listing of only the highest quality Italian roasters and cafes.
As I'm also a data geek with a background in digital communications, I like to analyse the daily user traffic to the project and plan how I can make it even more useful for the future.
5- What’s your favorite brewing method and why?
At the moment I'm really loving my Hario Switch as it gives the ability to combine percolation and immersion brewing methods. I've always loved brewing with a V60 as it gives a lot of control and variety, and the Hario Switch allows for even more room for experimentation.
I brew using different variations of the Hario Switch every morning, changing depending on the beans I'm using. If the beans work better with a little more body then I'll immerse them, if not then I'll use the Hario Switch as a standard V60. I really love the flexibility this device offers. Every morning I then take my brewed coffee down into a beautiful square in the centre of Rome to drink it, surrounded by the history, sounds and sights of the city waking up.
6- Which is the best coffee you ever tasted?
As my tastes and coffee preferences have changed over the years, I prefer not to get tied down to a single memory of a mythical coffee from my past. However, in recent memory I had an excellent coffee experience while on holiday in Bologna with my family and friends at Aroma cafe. The coffee was a natural Bourbon from El Salvador roasted by His Majesty the Coffee and it was brewed by Alessandro Galtieri, a champion Italian brewer. We drank it outside under the porticoes and I had a chance to introduce an Italian friend to specialty coffee, which he loved.
7- Is there a country of origin that you tend to favor coffee from? Why?
Kenya, in particular the Nyeri and Kirinyaga regions. There's something very special about the high altitude and volcanic soils that the smallholder farmers grow their coffee plants on.
8- Suggest us a roastery to check (not the one you working at/you use at work).
The list of micro roasteries in the “Buy specialty coffee” section on Specialty Coffee Italy has a complete list of those I’d happily recommend to anyone looking for great coffee.
If I had to choose a few then I'd start by recommending D612 Coffee Roasters in Florence. It's a fantastic roastery and Lucian Trapanese manages to bring out some incredible flavours from his lightly roasted beans. There’s also Bugan Coffee Lab in Bergamo, a roastery with a wide range of beautifully roasted coffees. For someone looking for great everyday specialty coffees, or taking their first steps into quality coffee, it's hard to go past La Sosta Specialty Coffee near Florence, another excellent roastery with lovely beans.
9- What’s the most important things you’ve learnt while working in the business?
There can be a huge difference between the specialty coffee you buy and what's written on the label, advertised or what you're led to believe on social media. Anyone can throw a bag of 80-point green beans into a roasting machine and claim that it's "specialty coffee". In the same light, any cafe can take a bag of well roasted coffee and say they are serving you a "specialty coffee". The truth is that not every roaster or barista has the experience or equipment needed to deliver coffee at a high-quality level.
One of the most important things I've learnt is to remain objective, no matter how nice or well-intended someone might be in their specialty coffee business.
10- How your work and the specialty coffee world are coping with Covid and the new challenges for hospitality?
Thanks to the Specialty Coffee Italy project I've got access to online data and can monitor the progress of the sector within Italy. What I've seen recently is a substantial bounce back and even increased interest in specialty coffee compared to pre-covid, for both international tourists and local Italians.
COVID was a huge wake-up call for the Italian specialty coffee sector in terms of digital presence and strategy. For those with their finger on the pulse, their use of online has become a more important avenue for their business and will continue to grow over time.
11- How do you see the specialty coffee scene in 10 years?
My prediction for the specialty coffee scene in Italy is very positive over the next decade. While remaining a niche, there will continue to be a slow, gradual increase in the number of dedicated specialty coffee cafes throughout Italy. Milan will have the biggest growth and become a prominent figure as the specialty capital in Italy.
I think there will be a lot of growth in specialty coffee in quality food locations like gourmet bottegas, patisseries and restaurants, where coffee isn't the main business but it's an addition to their core offering.
My hope is that the hard work done by the Italian specialty coffee roasters and cafe owners will gain even more recognition outside of the country. It'd be great if, in the next 10 years, there would be a unique, Italian specialty coffee style that then becomes a global trend. I know that Italians have the creativity, passion and drive to do it.
12- Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
I'll still be an avid specialty coffee drinker in search of quality cafes and roasters. I can't see myself making the professional jump into the coffee sector and will likely still be working in the humanitarian area.
13- Any last word? Any tip or suggestion you wanna share with someone that want to start this path?
Do your best to support your local, independent specialty coffee businesses - they are the future of the sector. And if you haven't already, try Italian specialty coffee, there are plenty of fantastic roasters and great cafes in this wonderful nation!