BlueBird Coffee Roastery goes to Europe
You might remember ‘meeting’ Dario and Alexis Scilipoti of BlueBird Coffee Roastery in our Roaster Feature a few months back. They recently completed a European trip where they visited some amazing cafés and met some incredible roasters. They shared the first part of their journey through Istanbul, and have more to share from their travels through Barcelona…
- - - - - - - - - -
On our final day in Istanbul, we met with Cagatay Gulabioglu of Probador Colectiva.
We spoke about specialty coffee and left with a deep desire to drop our commercial coffees and focus on being a quality obsessed specialty roastery, partnering with cafés who care about their coffee. We then jumped on a ferry across the Bosphorus River to explore the Asian side of Istanbul. We met up with Mert Toksoy, the owner of Montag Coffee Roasters – another specialty café with an off-site roastery.
Mert was awesome. We shared some tasty coffees and spoke in detail about his approach to roasting coffee. He works closely with Patrick Rolf of April Coffee in Copenhagen and together they are pushing the boundaries of roasting. Their current approach breaks pretty much all the ‘rules’. The evidence is in the cup and the cup tells me that they are on to something! We left with a 100g box of his competition Geisha from Colombia. And profile testing has started at BlueBird.
Next stop, Barcelona!
Ah Barcelona…what a city! Architecturally, the Gothic Quarter is one of my favourite places on earth. It also happens to have a pumping nightlife and a happening food scene. We were in town for the annual Mercat de Mercats (market of markets), which is a food and drink trade fair right outside the Barcelona Cathedral. It was fantastic – local beers and wine and endless food options!
We enjoyed the city at a slow pace. Soaking in the sights and sounds. Gaudi, Las Ramblas, beautiful beaches and of course, great coffee. The two coffee highlights were Satan’s Coffee and Nomad Coffee. With a questionable name choice and also for the fact that we visited on a Sunday morning, Satan’s will be a long-remembered experience! Serving coffee from Spanish roasting champion, Right Side Roasters, and with seriously quirky artwork, this small café in the centre of the Gothic Quarter feels different for the sake of being different.
After a pretty long bus ride and meeting a surfer headed for a wave (rare in this part of the world but extremely FOMO-inducing), we arrived at Nomad’s Roasters home location. As advertised, it’s the home of their Probat and roastery team. The small coffee bar features a La Marzocco GS3 and various manual brew options. I enjoyed a washed Kenyan batch brew served in a cupping bowl and a light-hearted conversation with their head roaster as he roasted a few batches. Cool people, good vibes, tasty coffee… great experience. We grabbed a bag of their Kenyan filter and proceeded to walk 100m down the road and straight into a bowl of the best paella we’ve ever had at a brand new little restaurant. It was a good day!
Coffee at sea
After a few days in Barcelona, we joined some friends aboard the world’s largest cruise ship, the Symphony of the Seas. Poor Lex, morning sickness at sea – she handled like a trooper! We enjoyed a stop in Marseille, explored the Cinque Terre with friends who live in La Spezia, and ran around Rome with a rad crew. It was the best time!
From a coffee point of view, a lot of BlueBird coffee was consumed onboard courtesy of my Porlex Mini hand grinder and AeroPress, and a dream was fulfilled… A dream to taste Rubens Gardelli’s coffee! As the current roasting world champ and with an uncompromisingly progressive approach to coffee, I look up to Gardelli and couldn’t pass up the chance to enjoy his coffee in his home country.
This led us to Pergamino Caffe, about 200m from the Vatican – and a hard decision to make. With two hours before we were heading back to the ship, do we enter the Vatican or drink coffee? Well, barista Gianmarco Frosoni served us Gardelli’s Ethiopian Nensebo competition series through the V60. I swore that I would taste the Nensebo in the café and then buy a bag of Gardelli’s cheaper coffee to take home. Ya, that didn’t happen! Nensebo is a dream Ethiopian that I am still enjoying at home, slowly.
We then had a Brazil from A+ Coffee in Australia as espresso. Full on chocolate – so good. Gianmarco then brewed our BlueBird Gatanga PB from Kenya and gave some good feedback. It’s pretty intimidating having your coffee tasted alongside a competition coffee from the world roasting champ!
After almost three weeks of fun, it was time to head home. We brought back memories, an immense amount of information, improved perspective, a strong dream for BlueBird and nine bags of coffee which we have enjoyed sharing with customers and friends.
Coffee is an incredible thing. It’s amazing to think that a simple seed within a cherry on a shrub in Africa can fuel people’s imaginations, enhance relationships, and literally drive economies. As coffee lovers in South Africa, let’s strap in and enjoy the rise of the specialty coffee scene… it’s just getting started!