The coffee scene has become painfully trendy (and a bit snobbish, to be honest) recently.
It certainly wasn’t so back in the early 90s, when a young Neapolitan twenty something (me) landed in London with nothing planned but to have some fun.
And fun I was to have, when I got my first paid job in the second branch of a then very small and privately owned coffee chain.
I had never paid too much attention to coffee despite coming from the Italian coffee capital (Napoli), so in London of all places I learnt how to make the perfect espresso and cappuccino. Forget the ‘latte art’ and the ‘flat white’ that today are de riguer in any respectable coffee shop. It was just the Italian way of serving coffee, and I loved it. The man who taught me the secrets of coffee is today a business man, but he hasn’t lost his passion for the true Italian coffee and now runs his own small but perfectly formed chain of coffee shops called Caffe’ Fratelli . I was therefore very proud to organise a work event at one of his branches last week.
Antonio Motisi (Fratelli founder) and his staff had never really done anything like this for an ‘outside’ audience, rather concentrating on training their own baristas. So this was a bit of a first for them and for us as well. We received a lot of interest internally, proof that coffee is indeed a topic many are keen to learn more of. A good start for sure.
We decided to split the attendees in three ‘stations’, each covering a particular area of interest. Antonio, the boss, covered the history of coffee and the history of Fratelli particularly paying attention to the changing UK market, and changed it has.
At the coffee making station (covered by Giuseppe and the beautiful Cimbali), I was surprised to find out how much things have changed since ‘my days’ and also how much it actually takes to make a proper, decent coffee. Most of the training we received is the same as their staff receives too and it was of the highest quality. We were all fascinated by the passion and the enthusiasm, let alone in-depth knowledge of the subject matter Antonio and the guys shared with us.
Antonio’s motto are the 4 Ms. Mmmm which also goes for Miscela (mix), Macinino (grinder), Macchina (machine) and finally Mano (hand). It was fascinating to learn how much each of these steps affects the quality of coffee and Giuseppe was so passionate about it too – we all loved his demo and the coffees he produced in front of us. He explained what is a flat white – thanks, it didn’t exist in the 90s!
Danny taught us how to get the best out of our home coffee machines, whether a moka or a cafetiere and how to smell and purchase the right coffees and grind for ourselves.
Finally, many of us that felt brave enough had a go at making their own coffees under Giuseppe’s supervision. I was prepared but felt too intimidated – silly me, I couldn’t wait to have a go again at something I loved doing for a couple of years!
The event ended with a Peroni and a slice of freshly baked delicious pizza (as this branch has a fire pizza oven).
I had a lot of fun and certainly know so much more about coffee now than I did even when I worked with it! Moreover, I love Fratelli’s blend (50% Arabica, 50% Robusta, now I know everything about it!). We were all just gutted there isn‘t a branch within walking distance from our office!
Our event was held at
Victor Wharf, Clink Street, London SE1 9DG
The event was paid for by a corporate