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Barista Stories: Dario Pieber of Rent a Barista, Basel

Meet Dario Pieber, the two-time Swiss Latte Art Champion for the years 2023 and 2024.

Dario’s journey in the world of coffee began in 2018, and since then, he has immersed himself in various aspects of the industry. From becoming a part-time barista on farmers’ markets, to a co-owner of Rent a Barista and training other baristas and coffee enthusiasts.

However, amidst these ventures, Dario’s passion currently focuses on the art of pouring and crafting latte art. He took part in numerous championships and represented Switzerland at the World Latte Art Championship in Taipei, where he took an amazing 8th place! Dario is also going to represent his country in the upcoming WLAC in Copenhagen.

Dario doesn’t keep his skill and know-how to himself and he loves to share with the community, He has even created a set of introduction classes on Skillshare, offering step-by-step guidance on preparing espresso, milk frothing techniques and various patterns in concise, easy-to-follow classes.

Dario’s goal is to foster a community of latte art enthusiasts committed to excellence while minimizing wastage and desires to contribute to a world where latte art flourishes and resources are conserved.

Barista Stories are sponsored by PUQpress.

Dario, what is your first memory of coffee? 

Probably from my holidays with the family in the south of Italy. I still remember the nice coffee smell in the morning coming from the moka pot. I loved the ritual but didn’t like to drink the coffee back then.

It only really started for me during my apprenticeship. We had to present something in front of the class, and my classmates chose to do something about coffee. And they showed a short clip of some simple latte art. I instantly had a deep desire to be able to do that as well.

So I got more interested in coffee, researched a lot and eventually bought myself a second-hand, battered Rocket Cellini. It was perfect to get started. At first, it was only about latte art. So the coffee looked great but probably tasted horrendous. This changed when I started to work on Saturdays as a barista at a local coffee shop for the farmers market. Benji from this company showed me everything and helped me a lot to finally prepare tasty espresso.

​​​​​What inspired you to pursue a career in the coffee industry, and how did you get started? What did you do before coffee?

To be honest it wasn’t the plan. As with everyone else in the industry.

After school, I started an apprenticeship as a chocolatier and once this was finished, I added a cheese-making apprenticeship. I planned to study food technology at this point, so I added one year of school to be allowed at UNI. During this time I used to work as a barista whenever I could, to afford my rent. Even though I loved this work, it was mostly to make ends meet. This changed after I visited a latte art class in Zurich. 

After the class, I was asked if I’d be interested in competing in the Swiss latte art championship. I was thrilled and worked my ass off to make a good first outing at the Swiss champs 2 months later. This paid off for me.

At the beginning of the year I was supposed to register for Uni, but somehow never did. I kinda had it in my gut feeling something good would happen. Soon enough I got a job offer as a barista trainer at the place where I was a student a couple of months earlier.

In the end, I just followed my passion, and good things kept happening to me. 

Tell us a bit about the place you work at. What is your role there?

Rent a Barista was founded by my business partner about four years ago. It started as a rentable Barista for events, birthday parties or whatever. Now we have 1 coffee shop where we also sell equipment and offer classes, we still do a lot of events and we also have a coffee truck at a different location in Zurich where we offer takeaway coffee. Currently, we are planning to open our own roastery to follow this passion as well.

As we are still very small, I do a lot of things. The biggest one is planning the roastery, but I also do quite some events, sometimes work in the cafe, give barista classes and many more things. 

What is your favourite part of the day at work, and why?

I love to make our customers’ day special with a cup of coffee. I think something as insignificant as a cup of coffee and the interaction with it, can change the way a day goes for most people. I just love that.

Dario shares a lot of latte art tip & tricks on his social media channels.

How do you stay motivated and inspired to keep improving your coffee-making skills?

If you stop learning you stop growing.

Coffee fascinates me and there is still so much to learn more about all the different facets of coffee. For the moment my focus is on latte art, but roasting and espresso extraction is also super interesting. I often have theories of why something works and I love to learn more about the topic till I can prove it right or wrong.

I just have a deep desire to challenge myself every day to get better.

Can you share a bit about your journey to becoming a National Latte Art champion?

Latte art has always been my number one fascination with coffee so it only feels natural to me to compete in this discipline.

At my second Swiss Championships, I was my ultimate enemy, even though my skills were decent enough, I was sooooo nervous, that on stage I messed everything up. So I knew, this is where I need to improve the most. So I started meditating every day, I visualized the perfect performance on stage and many more things to get myself in the right headspace to stay focused and calm on stage.

And I also slowly increased my practice hours on the machine, so my latte art also improved and got more solid.

In the end, one realisation changed everything for me. I was so focused on getting the one cup perfect but didn’t see this wasn’t valuable in this kind of competition. So I started to focus on getting my bad cups better, and this changed everything.

How did it feel to compete on the World Stage?

Amazing! This was my first-ever competition that I really enjoyed on stage.

You’re already the 8th-best latte art competitor in the world! Do you plan to adjust/change your training or approach for the next championships?

Haha, this feels crazy if you say it like that. At the moment I feel like I found a solid training routine that works for me. But obviously, I will continue to adjust it every day to make it more efficient. 

And with the feedback I got in Taipei, I have created some new and hopefully better patterns for the next world championships. I hope to score more points with the patterns this time. One is definitely the best pattern I have ever created, so stay tuned!

Dario, you have even designed your own latte art pitcher. Can you let us know what is unique about it?

Yeah sure. I was never really happy with the pitchers I was using for my latte art. 

Some pitchers have a very sharp spout and feel super snappy to pour rosettas and for the slow pour the milk kinda slips through, others have just a funny-shaped spout that didn’t work for me.

So as most other latte artists do, I got myself a simple milk jug and adjusted the spout with a pliers tool till it felt right. But the handle also didn’t feel right, so I wanted to change that as well. And most of the milk jugs are simply too heavy.

In the end, I wanted to create a milk jug with a spout that allows you to pour basic patterns as well as the most advanced latte art in the world. A jug that is light with a weight distribution that is closer to your hand, and a handle that fits your hand snugly.

Last but not least, the jug has to be dishwasher safe. 

With a good portion of imagination, my battered, adjusted milk jug and a bit of luck I created the Dario Pieber Milkpitcher. I am quite happy with how it turned out and apparently, many latte artists are too.

Latte art has gained immense popularity in recent years. How do you see this art form evolving in the future, and what role do you hope to play in its development?

I hope we can elevate the basic level of latte art and coffee-making skills in the coming years. There are still too many places with badly prepared coffee and still so many people who have never seen latte art before.This really is a shame. Especially as almost all have really good equipment, but don’t invest in training.

I want to create more free tutorial videos, so people can follow along and improve their coffee-making skills along the way. I hope to add value by training people, creating valuable content for training and showing good coffee to more people.

What coffee challenges are you looking forward to? Any new projects or collaborations?

I am beyond excited to start our own roastery. Can’t wait to get into the nitty gritty of roasting and green coffee buying. And I am very excited to compete again on the world stage in Copenhagen.

Quick Fire Questions for Dario Pieber:

Would you serve filter coffee with milk if asked for it?

Yeah sure, whatever the customer likes the most.

Do you ever take sugar with your coffee?


Rosetta or tulip as a latte art pattern?

Owl 😀 Haha. not sure if this is a valid answer.

Milky or Black?

Depends on my mood.

Slurp or spit?


Espresso of filter coffee?

Depends on my mood.

Cake or Pastry with your coffee?


Favourite piece of barista equipment?

My Dario Pieber 600ml pitcher in vanilla dream.