Published by Tanya in Coffee Insurrection Hero · 27 August 2021
Tags: JessicaSartiani, MelaleucaBistrot, Florence, Interview
Tags: JessicaSartiani, MelaleucaBistrot, Florence, Interview
1- Introduce yourself: who are you, where are you from, where do you work and what’s your job.
I’m Jessica Sartiani, born and raised in Florence. I work as a Head Barista at Melaleuca Bistrot, I’m also a barista trainer (Barista Hustle coach) and I collaborate with a few companies like DM Italia, Anfim and Cimbali.
2- When and why did coffee become important to you?
The first time that I visited a Coffee Roaster, I realised that I didn’t know anything about coffee,in that period I was working as a Barista in the morning and as a Bartender in the night, I felt like I was in a crossroad: Coffee or Mixology? Then a local roaster was hiring for a trainee barista and I left my work as a Hotel bar manager, I was peckish of coffee knowledge. The salary was lower but I was really curious and enthusiastic about the opportunity to learn more about coffee ,a sensation that money isn't able to give you.
3- Do you remember the first coffee you had that was more than “just a cup of coffee”?
I can remember my first London Coffee Festival in 2012, I can’t mention only a single cup of coffee because all the coffees that I tasted were surrounded by the vibes of the coffee community that was something really new for me. I remember a cupping of different coffees from Colombia, it was a surprise for me that a single country could have so many different cup profiles. For the first time I heard Baristas talking about coffee producers and all the efforts that was behind every single cup, I understood that the barista was the last figure of an incredible chain and that we, the baristas, got the opportunity to spread all this efforts with the final consumer.
4- What’s your favorite thing about going to work in the morning?
I like to get out of the house and jump on my bike, arrive at the coffee shop, set the grinder, taste the coffee and taste how it changed from the day before. It is the feeling that reminds you how much coffee is alive.
5- What’s your favorite brewing method and why?
Pour overs and immersion methods, I love to enjoy the ritual of a pour over. I can taste the coffee in a full immersion experience, it’s amazing how much you can play with this brewing method, it’s fun to explore every single parameter and test how it can change the result in a cup.
6- Which is the best coffee you ever tasted?
Ahh... all the time someone asked me this question, I felt like a mother that had to answer the question “Which of your children do you prefer?” All the coffees have a story behind, a lot of experimentation, some failed and some outcome. That’s why all coffees deserve respect. I’m really passionate about my job, and I cannot avoid my heart and soul to be involved while I answer this question… that’s why I cannot miss to mention the coffee that I bought for my first Italian Brewers Cup, DUROMINA from Ethiopia. In that period was a pretty new project in an Ethiopian area that usually was known for the low quality of the coffee, Jimma. In 2010, more than 100 local coffee farmers banded together to form Duromina that means “To improve our lives”, with technical support, business advice and access to finance, the members acquired and installed a wet mill and began processing fully washed coffee for the first time. “To improve our lives” this quote is so powerful that it is impossible for me to forget it.
7- Is there a country of origin that you tend to favor coffee from? Why?
I prefer African coffees because I love the acidity and the complexity in the cup. Last year I was surprised to taste some Rwandan and Ethiopian natural coffees that were really clean and sweet. The balance in the cup is essential, especially if we think about the market where you serve the coffees, here in Italy, for the traditional market, serve a coffee with an high acidity can be a big challenge but I realised that if you find a coffee with a pleasant medium acidity and with a high sweetness, even and inexpert palate can appreciate a specialty coffee cup. When the customer comes back to the shop and asks for a Rwandan espresso is always a great satisfaction, a step for the growth of the quality here in Italy.
8- Suggest us a roastery to check (not the one you are working at/you use at work).
9- What’s the most important things you’ve learnt while working in the business?
The importance of people and empathy. We can’t transmit the story behind the cup with arrogance, even in a team work, the real goal is when all the team is at the same level, there’s no space for competition, if we work together we are stronger.
10- How your work and the specialty coffee world are coping with Covid and the new challenges for hospitality?
My work as a Barista was really challenging last year, an important part of the Italian specialty coffee scene is communication and guiding the clients while they’re drinking the coffee. With the takeaway mode, it is difficult to replicate this experience in a paper cup also because they are not allowed to drink it inside the shop. But there’s a huge increase in home consumption. At the beginning of the lockdown I delivered some coffee, that was an occasion to talk about the coffee that they bought, suggesting the best way to extract the coffee at home. My job as a trainer instead, changed by moving a high percentage online and reducing a lot of the “onlife” courses. But there’s a pro when we think about training for companies. Before the pandemic situation the classes were more crowded, now, to follow the protocol, the classes are reduced, this can give the chance to increase the quality of the course and get more focused on every single student.
11- How do you see the specialty coffee scene in 10 years?
I believe in the new generation. In this Era we can get a lot of information, thanks to technology, the web can be a great weapon if used well. After many years the role of the barista has been evaluated and this is important for all the coffee chain because if baristas highlighted the characteristics of the cup profile, baristas can also talk about the problems that the country of origins are facing, like climate change, the unfair price and social/political situation. We don’t have to forget that we can be messengers of consciousness.
12- Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
I hope to always be in love with my job.
13- Any last word? Any tip or suggestion you wanna share with someone that want to start this path?
Be hungry for knowledge, respect all the coffee you serve (to costumers and yourself). Be kind and gentle, the world needs empathy.