L’AQUILA – It has always been done for wine, more recently for oil, now it has also started for honey. Therefore, who said that a culture cannot be spread for coffee that leads to greater awareness of what one drinks, based on a culture and a knowledge of everything that revolves around the drink that is the symbol of Made in Italy, helping to appreciate the different products on the market and thus contribute to increasing their value and thus the price? Claudio Calvisi he asked himself this question before others, for this reason with his channel Youtubewhich became very popular within a few years, started with the disclosure in the belief that “if more culture is spread, coffee is bought with greater awareness, and therefore mine too”.
On the other hand, the Michelin brothers had thought of such a thing long before him when, in order to encourage motorists to travel, thereby increasing the sale of cars and consequently the purchase of tires, they invented what has become the famous guide to the best restaurants in the world.
“I just wanted to drink a good coffee”, says Claudio with a joke, which will give this title to a book he is working on, to explain how his passion for this is an authentic world and as such should be known. and explored. “Each of us wants to drink coffee, but when we approach this product, we realize that it is a more complicated path than we thought”.
Heir to the historic confectionery company Dolci Aveja, founded from scratch by his parents in 1977, Claudio, who gave life to the brand 99 Caffè – a small artisan roastery – invited to L’Aquila Michele Cantarella, exponent and trainer of Sca (Specialty coffee association), for an “educational” day reserved for a small group of connoisseurs and enthusiasts who also came from outside the region. We started in the morning with the theoretical part in the showroom in viale Corrado IV, to continue in the afternoon in the Cavalletto d’Ocre laboratory, where together we also experimented with roasting, one of the key steps to produce a quality product.
For tasting, during the first part of the day, three types of coffee: the Abbraccio blend, the Carezza blend and a specialty coffee, Etiopia Sidano. Three aspects with very different organoleptic characteristics that were only tasted in this order best restore the differences between a conventional but high-quality product and one of excellence, highly selected, that comes from small lots and single origin, that is, from a single plantation.
“Coffee is a complicated world where roasters are usually huge companies with millionaire turnover, while the small ones are few even if they are spreading,” said Claudio, giving a particularly current example like the pizza margherita “which we once paid for five euros and today becomes we are not scandalized if we pay fifteen for it, as long as with refined or high quality products. So I am convinced that it will happen, in time, for coffee”.
“I’m exposing the coffee culture for a personal interest,” he admitted, “but in the end we’re helping to ensure that over time we’ll be willing to pay for it a lot more than we’re willing to do today.”
“Approaching coffee knowing what’s behind it,” Cantarella pointed out, “is important because it makes us understand today how much a cup of coffee should actually cost. We don’t want to create the coffee aristocracy, but we really make coffee,” he said, who in Salerno runs one of the most important cafes where in a few years he has managed to keep so many customers that he can significantly increase the part of them that he is willing to spend even five euros for a cup.
And if you rely on reviews, word of mouth and the web to choose the bar where you will have breakfast, as many of the participants of the 99 Caffè day mini course said, then it is important to know how to recognize the best place with the most objective tools as possible. . Before evaluating coffee, undoubtedly – according to Calvisi and Cantarella – the hygiene of the place is a calling card. The two tried to answer some symbolic questions and then explained the importance of cleaning the machine, adjusting the grind and cleaning the steam wand used for cappuccino. Thus, the thermometer of the quality of a cafe is the presence of more than one grinder, which probably indicates the presence behind the counter of an educated person.
“In any case, coffee means fast and not slow,” Cantarella pointed out. But this does not mean neglecting certain steps that are considered fundamental to a quality product. “If he rinses, that is, an empty output of water before he puts in the filter with the coffee”, was one of the examples, “it is a symptom that the barista has been trained and does not pass by there. chance”.
“Every time the bartender changes is not synonymous with professionalism,” it added, “because we risk facing an improvised one. The bartender’s movement is thus the sublimation of his professionalism”.
Between one tasting and the next, very topical issues were also raised which, although they apparently do not seem to enter anything, affect the coffee served at the counter: “There are countries where a barista can earn as much as a dentist – Cantarella said -. The problem with dissatisfaction, especially for young people, depends on the average salary of those who are lucky, and have a lot of experience and professionalism, it’s a thousand euros a month even for 10 hours a day, seven days a week. Maybe he doesn’t laugh, maybe because of this ! The fault certainly lies with the manager, but also with the concept we have of coffee. We increase the cost every month, we reach 1.50 in September. But we did it for a financial need like the various increases, but wherever in the world you go there will not be a bartender who will make an espresso for less than 3 euros”.
In short, if “we go to a star restaurant with the awareness of spending a certain amount and we do not do it to fill our bellies but to experience an experiential journey, we must learn that the same applies to coffee”. But thanks to many small artisan roasteries, which, like 99 Caffè, offer high-quality products at prices similar to commercial coffee, it is by no means certain that it is necessary to spend much more than we are used to. to.
Both during the morning and in the afternoon when we tried our hand at roasting, we tried to understand how to recognize a good espresso. A question that really does not have a simple or unequivocal answer, the factors are many, but certainly the habit has affected the tastes of each one, which has led the common palate to prefer conventional products. For this reason, “when it comes to the kitchen, where great chefs have appeared who have shown how much creativity and technology is needed – it was said – even for coffee, the only way forward is the one that can guarantee a complete supply chain”. (m.sig.)