I was first made aware of coffee at an early age during the summertime of 73, when I was packed off to Italy for a couple of months to my grandparents’ house in Bagni Di Lucca, Tuscany. I guess that was my first impression and experience of coffee at the receptive age of six. Coffee was a ritual inside my grandparent's house, as it seemed to be everywhere in Italy. Whenever we strolled past a high street coffee shop, the fresh aroma of the delicacy filled the warm summer air with its desirable taste. Wonderful and fond memories of walking inside these coffee institutions created the passion and obsession with the commodity I have today.
Everything seemed to revolve around the ritual of drinking coffee
My earliest memory is sitting at a dinner table on one of those Sundays, when the custom called for the classic family meal. Travelling a modest distance to a countryside restaurant, where my Nonno (Grandfather), always knew the owner, where we were treated with a significant level of attention and courtesy. I would sit quietly next to my mother as the restaurant owner would simply ask what my Nonno would want, as he chose for us all...this was the custom, as we all ate the same food. Firstly antipasto...freshly sliced salamis, prosciutto, and mortadella, with a side of bread sticks, belissimo!
Then came the second wave. Bowls of freshly made pasta were placed on my plate with a fresh snow fall of parmesan cheese... wonderful, so tasty, and the pasta, so soft, freshly made! Loaves of bread were offered to those who wanted to mop up the sauce...which is the best part as we all know!
Then the main course. Roasted cuts of meats, pork chops, pork ribs, salsiccia, chicken pieces, occasionally rabbit too! Served with the best tasting potatoes infused with rosemary and garlic...served with a glass of red wine.
As the night came to a close, coffee was served. The waitress would simply say coffee? No fussy flat white, americano, cappuccino with soya milk, simply just "Coffee?" A question that was always received with a resounding “Si”. The espresso arrived, delicate cups of warm aromatic black wonder fuel… I wasn't allowed the wine, but yeah, they let me indulge occasionally with the coffee.
Fascinated by the tradition, I would watch as the sugar slipped into the espresso glass. The metal coffee spoons would stir the sugar, squeaking against the side of the glass cups. Everything seemed to revolve around the ritual of drinking coffee, nothing more alien to a young boy from Glasgow, who never experienced coffee in the 70’s and when we did, it came straight out a jar into a mug. Morning coffee... for the workers... espresso or a delicious cappuccino, that was consumed with a brioche, often at speed!
Morning coffee... for theIR workers
Espresso or a delicious cappuccino, that was consumed with a brioche often at speed! Mid morning espressos… for the people who didn't seem to work, and seemed to be in no hurry, happy to chat, over there shot of coffee.
Lunch coffee, an espresso consumed after a hearty lunch!
Post work coffee, when people crawled into the coffee shops on their way home, then finally, that final indulgence after an evening meal, giving people the energy to relax and enjoy each other’s company, and it starts again… Roll on... as life does, and I find myself at a crossroads in my life, 25 years old.
Things seem to happen for a reason, and my happening was when one day I had the opportunity to purchase a used coffee roaster, a 60kg Trabittoni coffee roasting machine, and thats where my journey started, 1992, no internet in those days’ folks, yes you had to figure it out yourself, and I did. I quickly developed a talent for blending and roasting coffee, and developing brands, offering freshly roasted coffee to my clients, became a passion of mine.
And I grew from there, from humble beginnings to a company which today roasts and packs over 500 tonnes of coffee per year (and growing), selling into Europe, and even further afield. We still roast fresh coffee every day for our clients. I often think back to those days in Italy and how much coffee had influenced me; little did I know that my coffee would be served and consumed today by so many people…?
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