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Barista Stories: Federico Pinna of Urban Cafe, Treviglio

Meet Federico Pinna, a seasoned coffee professional and owner of Urban Cafe based in charming Treviglio, Italy. Federico is a huge advocate for modern specialty coffee trying to evolve daily the Italian coffee traditions in his community and beyond.

Federico won the Italian Barista Championship and represented his country during the World Championship in Busan, where he made it to the semi-finals. He is also a coffee consultant and member of the Coffee and Beverage Community (CBC) by Simonelli Group.

Barista Stories are sponsored by PUQpress.

Federico, what is your first memory with coffee? 

My father has been working in this industry for many years, but my idea of coffee changed in 2017, when I tasted my first specialty coffee at Bugan Coffee Lab, prepared by a very young Daniele Ricci. I still remember that coffee… Costa Rica, Tirra washed. 

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

My family was already running a coffee shop. After I met the guys from Bugan I decided to take up SCA training, Daniele convinced me in 2019 to join my first competition (latte art) and since then I haven’t stopped studying, researching and improving my skills. Before embarking on the barista career I was studying to become a surveyor.

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

Urban Cafe is a small coffee shop in a town of 35,000 – Treviglio. We have been serving only specialty coffee for 2 years now. I am the owner, and head barista. I choose and improve the products and our daily offerings.

What kind of experience do you want your customers to have when they visit you at the cafe?

Working in the Italian coffee industry is fun, customers especially in small towns like mine are still tied to questionable Italian traditions. Our goal is to evolve the traditions, educate and introduce a new world to our customers… It feels great to receive compliments and see customers leave happy and satisfied with the new experience.

What is your favourite part of the day in your cafe, and why?

Between 7:00 and 10:00… When there is mostly “recycling” of our regular guests. Forming relationships with them is important in my work.

What do you think is the most important quality for a barista to have, and why?

Attention to detail. I always say that a barista has to be precise and attentive when preparing the coffee, but at the same time, he/she has to feel the vibe and attend to all the guests in the café.

What are some common misconceptions about our industry that you’ve encountered, and how do you address them?

A good barista needs to know what happens during the extraction, how to play with different coffees, varieties and of course also different kind of brewing. Should have a chance to work every day with several coffees and be capable of choosing the recipes to create a perfect and memorable experience for the guests.

What are some common misconceptions about our industry that you’ve encountered, and how do you address them?

Sugar in coffee, the fact that espresso is thought to be the only method of extraction, and so many other questionable traditions in Italy…We try to change this by serving filter coffee and explain the potential of specialty coffees.

You have some nice achievements in championships. Can you tell us more about them?

Yes, after the pre-round I was 6th during the World Barista Championship in Busan. An incredible result since it was my first time on the World stage. In the semifinals, I changed a little bit the recipe to push the level but it didn’t turn out the way I wanted it to.

How did it feel to compete on the World Stage?

It was AMAZING! it is so incredible to share the stage and backstage with amazing baristas and experienced champions.

You had some innovative concepts during your open service. Can you tell us about them?

I decided to talk about “pushing the coffees to the next level” working with different varieties combined together, using combinations to create new amazing experiences for the customers.

I was in Colombia in March with my coach and amazing friend – Daniele Ricci to select the coffees and during my presentation, i told about my trip and about an amazing experiment made with Adrian, Nestor and Jhoan from El Diviso and Las Flores.

What is in your opinion the most important thing to have in mind when you start to compete in coffee championships?

Improve your skills and always have a goal to reach.

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

At the moment I want to enjoy my success, travel to different trade shows and visit coffee farms. And I obviously want to compete again. Find a perfect concept to improve my ranking in the next years.

Quick Fire Questions for Federico Pinna:

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

No.

Do you ever take sugar with your coffee?

 NO. I have a tattoo saying “NO SUGAR IN MY COFFEE”.

Espresso or Filter coffee?

Espresso.

Milky or Black?

Black.

Flat bottom or conical-shaped brewer?

Conical-shaped dripper

Do you aim for Sweetness, Acidity, or Body?

Sweetness and Body.

Cake or Pastry with your coffee?

Cake.

Favourite piece of barista equipment?

PUQpress.