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Can Starbucks Change Italian Specialty Coffee for the Better?

The Italians are known as the inventors of the espresso machine and their ‘un cafe’ service cannot be mistaken with any other cafe service in the world. But despite their long history of drinking and brewing coffee, the Italians of today stand in front of new challenges imposed on their coffee culture.

Federico Lucas Pezzetta and Federica Balestrieri of Romedia Studio set out to document the current state of the Italian specialty coffee culture, putting in a contrast the modern or third wave approaches to sourcing, roasting, brewing and serving coffee, as opposed to the classic approach of the majority of Italians in the history as well as nowadays.

First Italian Documentary about Third Wave Coffee

The authors told us: “This is the very first Italian documentary about specific coffee themes: the specialty coffee, the third wave, the filter coffee and the impact of the arrival of Starbucks in Italy. Nothing similar had been made before.”

We are really excited to share the views of the current coffee scene as well as the visions for its future as expressed by multiple leaders of the Italian specialty coffee industry that appear in the documentary.

The documentary was originally meant to be an advertisement video for Umami Area, a company that focuses on sharing of taste. It shows a great passion for educating the industry and the public. Afterall, Umami Area decided to drop their advertising plans that were at the origin of the documentary and contribute with the film instead. There was a great potential to build upon!

Apart from the great contribution of Umami Area, other coffee professionals such as Sanapo Francesco (Ditta Artigianale), Cropster, Brita and Probat representatives contributed to the document. Another perspective was offered by Mathias Kaps, a pedagogue at Starkmacher e.V. or Ilaria Pitocchi, a copywriter. Many other opinions and takes on the topic from multiple industry partners as well as from those who can see the industry from both sides of the coffee bar were shared.

Watch: Coffees – Italians do it better (?)

Please, enjoy the documentary with a nice filter coffee in hand, potentially brewed with one of the specialty roasters in Italy. Enjoy!

“The arrival of Starbucks may be a great opportunity.” The opening line of ‘Coffees – Italians do it better (?)’ by Sanapo Francesco, Italian Barista Champion and owner of Ditta Artigianale may surprise many baristas and coffee enthusiasts alike. What is it about Starbucks that Sanapo considers a positive contribution to the industry in Italy? Is the Italian coffee industry about to experience a massive shift in trends?

A wake-up call to the Italian specialty coffee scene

We will let you discover the answers in the document for yourself, but rest assure, beginning with the first phrase the document offers a range of fresh views, an honest critique of set traditions that are engraved in the way Italians treat coffee and what it represents to them. This documentary could be, as the arrival of Starbucks, a wake-up call to those who are part of the hospitality and cafe industry.

Italy has never been more exposed to competition, criticism and diverse tastes and taste preferences than today. With a great number of tourists coming to Italy, the demand for diverse coffee is rising. The Italian specialty coffee industry needs to step up its game shall it hold the line of the espresso bars.

Is the country aware of the changes in the coffee industry? Watching the document we believe there is a great number of representatives of the Specialty Coffee who are doing their best to make Italy aware of the flaws of the industry while introducing the country to the exciting opportunities Specialty Coffee offers.

In the documentary, Umami Area’s president, Andrej Godina, talks about the role of Robusta in Italian coffee-drinking culture. He also touches on the freshness, or rather the old age of certain crops that are still being served all over Italy. Marco Cremonese, the company’s roaster explains the variety of a bean achieved through diverse roasting. Cremonese hence touches on the fact that majority of cafes are serving very dark blends, and how that is limiting to the final cup profile. Both Godina and Cremonese open the documentary breaking down established myths about coffee labels and caffeine levels in relation to the type of bean. This way, they achieve to inform the general public, delivering a great load of knowledge, but realising their audience, speaking their language and considering their knowledge.

The documentary is hence a very human way of explaining where the Italians are coming from when they expect a short, rich and creamy espresso, and what can the industry do to open their minds to new styles of coffee. This is also touched upon by several interesting guests in the document.

Coffee is an object of happiness

Our favourite quote from the documentary must be by the pedagogue Mathias Kaps: “Coffee is an object of happiness that should help me be happy, start the day and take care of the whole day. It’s the first moment of attack. Because of this, the people who drink coffee should have some type of encounter, knowing that it’s been done well.” This we consider important to note as the service is what will separate the specialty cafes from the others. Kaps then goes on to point out the importance of a barista in this role, as the operator of the machines, as the one who is in contact with the customer and should be well prepared for such a task.

We cannot agree more with everyone in the documentary and are thrilled to see positive attitude, passion and hard work throughout the film. Take your time to appreciate the efforts that are being made by—so far—a small percentage of industry professionals. There is hopefully a brighter future coming to the land of coffee machine invention.

Let us finish with Frederico and Federica’s piece of advice: “To us, the best way to tell and share the story of the Specialty Coffee is to keep an open-mind attitude, without arrogance. After knowing what is quality, our sense of taste is the final judge.”