Consultant and Trainer
Damian drinks, lives, breathes coffee. A super-successful coffeepreneur, he started in the business over 10 years ago working for one of Italy’s leading roasters. He still lives in Northern Italy, but now runs his own business as consultant and trainer to some of the biggest names in coffee.
What excites him about his day to day is the fact that coffee is such a people business. On a recent trip to Dubai he was training Phillipino baristas in the morning, meeting their Egyptian managers in the afternoon and dining in the desert with a millionaire sheikh in the evening!
But perhaps most exciting of all are the trips he organises and leads to plantations all over the world. And who better to help coffee lovers explore and experience the origin of the bean than this typically restless Kiwi whose feet have rarely touched the ground?
This is what really inspires him. Whether he’s in Ethiopia or Brazil, the plantations are all doing the same thing, growing, picking, packing. But every single one is also unique; the people, the environment, the way they live. He’s constantly amazed and humbled by just how much it takes to produce coffee. “So many of my clients say to me that the trip has given them a whole new respect for every cup of coffee they make/serve/drink – delete as applicable!”
His travels have certainly fuelled his own views on sustainability. He says of the growers, “There they are nurturing the coffee cherries month after month, looking to the future, recycling every drop of water, fighting so hard to grow this product. They’re the ones trying to make a change in the industry, we’re the ones, in the last 25 seconds, downing an espresso and just chucking the plastic cup without even thinking about it.”
Finding a better way to do things is going to be at the heart of his next venture – mobile coffee wagons. Something not so new in Northern Europe, but as yet unknown to the ultra-conservative, café dwelling Italians. He wants to take them beyond their daily espresso and cappuccino; introduce them to single estate coffees, woo them with new exciting flavours, promote plant-based and bang the drum about single use plastics. All the things he feels so strongly about! As he says, “I must have launched 150 coffee shops over the years, but never had one of my own.” Now could be the time to do it his way!
Plant-based in Italy is still something of a niche novelty, but Damian’s on a personal mission to change that! “It’s not just trendy or this year’s way-out-there fad. It’s a truly sustainable option with so many health benefits that it’s just a no brainer not to use it. And there are so many great-tasting flavours, plant-based drinks have really livened up the menu.”
A lifetime of travelling has given him a global grasp of what’s been happening within the industry. He’s been fascinated by the speed with which the coffee business has taken off in new territories like Iran. And in countries where coffee is already well-established, it’s become the new wine. Coffee drinkers are now coffee connoisseurs, experts in provenance and production techniques and discerning about what they drink.
And the perfect cup of coffee? To Damian, “It’s the client’s perfect cup of coffee! OK, so a darker-roasted, intense robusta blend wouldn’t be my choice but if that’s what they want, I’ll make the best possible version of it. Serving good coffee’s also about knowing when to chat and when to keep quiet and just hand it over and say, ‘have a good day’.” He believes that the whole customer experience is what makes a good cup of coffee. And that the most important ingredient is passion!
"Make the effort to visit a coffee plantation as soon as you can. The experience and the learning opportunities are immense."
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