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Barista Conversations: interview with Daniele Ricci

Tuesday 24 October

Daniele Ricci is the Italian Barista champion 2020 and 2023 and World Barista champion 2023 Runner Up. He discovered coffee at 12 years old, when he had a little mishap in the kitchen. Then he fell in love with coffee immediately and started competing when he was only 16.

In his
interview by Damian Burgess, Daniele tells us about his best coffee moments, his thoughts on plant-based coffees and gives some advice to those just starting out in the coffee industry.

What is your first memory of coffee?

My very first memory is from 13 years ago. I remember I wanted to watch the NBA Finals on tv, live during the night. So I decided to prepare a moka-pot in my kitchen, back then I was
living with my parents, as I was 12 years old. I prepared everything and I waited in the living room for the coffee to be ready with the kitchen’s door closed, because I didn’t want to wake up my parents. After 20 minutes coffee was not getting out, so I open the kitchen's door to check... I saw an incredible cloud of smoke and my dad’s moka-pot melting on the fire. I forgot to put water in... I remember I left a piece of paper to my dad, apologizing for it. From that moment, I had to know how to make coffee!

What was your most exciting coffee moment in the past year?

The most exciting coffee moment of the year was definitely in Athens, Greece, during my set-up time in the Finals of the WBC. After tasting my competition's espresso, the first sip gave me goosebumps. I couldn't have been happier to share it with the judges within the next 15 minutes.

How and when did you start competing?

I started competing when I was 16 years old, thanks to a coffee competition organized in my hometown by a roastery that was also organizing an SCA course; it was “SCA Introduction to coffee”. Thanks to that, I started competing and approaching the coffee competitions.

When someone’s competing, what is the most important thing to keep in mind?

Definitely a project, for sure. A project that you wanna share with the coffee community and the coffee industry, something that you really believe in, for example like a cool coffee or a new experiment or process or something really innovative or, I would say, even for a team, something they want to present to the world thanks to new techniques or something new.

Most important piece of advice for someone pursuing a career in coffee?

I believe that perseverance is one of the key aspects for a coffee professional. Especially the specialty coffee industry has been changing a lot throughout the years and a lot of new projects are happening all around the world. So my biggest advice would be to keep challenging yourself, keep being interested in many topics and don't give up, because big things need time.

What does the future of plant-based coffee look like, according to you?

It’s definitely something that is gaining a lot of interest and curiosity, and I think that thanks to we will see a better approach to plant-based drinks everywhere in the world. It will be important to deepen our knowledge about this topic, in order to be updated all the time with new trends.

Buying a ready to use plant-based drink, or create your own?

Creating a plant-based drink is very complicated and I can only imagine how much work there's behind. So I think I'd play safe and go with something that has been already tested and analyzed!

Watch Daniele Ricci’s performance at the 2023 World Barista Championship in Athens.