Accademia del Caffè Espresso, PRF 2021 Bronze Sponsor, is an academic center that focuses on the history, culture, and science behind espresso. It is based in Fiesole, a town and comune of the Metropolitan City of Florence, in Italy. It features an exhibition area, labs, an indoor coffee farm, and experimental workshops.
We spoke with Lavinia Caini, Marketing Coordinator at Accademia del Caffè Espresso, to learn more about their projects and how they work with producers at origin.
WHAT IS ACCADEMIA DEL CAFFÈ ESPRESSO LOOKING FORWARD TO IN 2021?
Our goal for 2021 is to strengthen our relationships with origin countries and to connect further with the community in Europe and further afield. Of course, our hope is to be able to do it here, physically at Accademia, as soon as possible, but in the meantime we are planning virtual meetings and activities.
Accademia was born with the intent of becoming an ambassador for quality coffee and reducing the distance between origin and consumer. That’s why for 2021, we aim mainly to build a bridge between producers on one side, and roasters and baristas on the other, as well as everyone who likes coffee, innovative design and food.
While we hope to have representatives from these producing countries physically at Accademia soon, we are also committed to improving processes, investing in internal education, and raising awareness about coffee within all departments of La Marzocco.
AS A COFFEE EDUCATION AND INNOVATION CENTER IN ITALY, WHAT WERE THE GREATEST CHALLENGES YOU FACED IN 2020? HOW DID YOU ADAPT TO THEM?
Accademia was supposed to open to the public in March 2020, the exact same week Italy was put into lockdown because of the pandemic. Instead, we decided to use 2020 to improve our space and create and add new content to the exhibit, moving the focus from the espresso machine to coffee more widely.
We are well aware that coffee is the force behind our business, and we felt that we could dive deeper into its origins and give a face to coffee. With this in mind, we have created an “Origin Room” at Accademia – a kind of virtual trip to four different countries, where you feel the soil and meet the farmer. It uses storytelling to help spread knowledge about coffee in a very straightforward way that is approachable for everybody, experts or not.
Additionally, in our labs and at our main bar, we are focused on taste experience, but want to teach future visitors about more than the beauty of espresso. We’re also talking about alternative brewing methods, the importance of roasting, and how processing, for instance, affects the cup profile of a certain coffee, along with soil, climate, variety, and so on.
TELL US MORE ABOUT ACCADEMIA DEL CAFFE ESPRESSO’S ROLE IN THE WIDER COFFEE SUPPLY CHAIN.
We consider ourselves a neutral platform, open to everyone, where people can learn more about coffee. Accademia’s aim is to spread knowledge and talk about the culture of coffee.
This happens at various levels: we help visitors discover more through the museum, the exhibit area, and its green heart – our greenhouse, a vivid reproduction of a coffee farm. As for professionals, we half them improve their skills with a dedicated course offering, and give them new ways to learn through Accademia’s research and partnerships. At the same time, we want to celebrate coffee culture and its social aspect.
The beautiful thing about Accademia is that we leave the decision to our visitors. How deep they want to go when learning about coffee is up to them. We are constantly adapting and absorbing new trends in the industry, so visitors can even revisit and discover new things.
HOW DOES ACCADEMIA DEL CAFFE ESPRESSO WORK TOWARDS IMPROVING THE COFFEE SECTOR?
We strongly believe that a major improvement can come just with a deeper understanding of coffee, its origins and of the steps it takes to get from seed to cup. And that’s what Accademia seeks to achieve with all activities.
On one side, partnerships with universities provide an analytical and scientific approach to coffee and share knowledge about it. On the other, exchanges and cross-disciplinary encounters with aficionados give us the opportunity to be enriched by a whole range of worlds and sectors. We take inspiration from others to serve as a platform of exchange for all things coffee-related.
TELL US ABOUT SOME OF ACCADEMIA DEL CAFFE ESPRESSO’S INITIATIVES IN COFFEE PRODUCING COUNTRIES.
Accademia is committed to bringing coffee producers and consumers closer together. To this end, Accademia has already signed agreements with ICAFE Costa Rica, IHCAFE Honduras, Anacafè Guatemala, CSC (El Salvador), IILA and ACE and is signing new agreements with institutions in Panama, Ecuador, Brazil, and Colombia.
These partnerships are aimed at different things, involving all the steps of the supply chain. For instance, it could mean training people at origin about espresso brewing and technology, or getting to know more about their regional coffees and new processing methods.
In the near future, we will connect origins with the local community through virtual cuppings to enhance direct relationships between farmers and final customers. Ultimately, this will lead to more informed consumers and better-equipped producers.
Credit: Accademia del Caffè Espresso