Venezuela, a beautiful nation with exceptionally beautiful people. But what about coffee? Did you know at one time Venezuela was ranked close to Colombia in coffee production? However by 2001, it produced less than 1% of the world’s coffee.
We caught up with Pietro who seems to be the ‘renaissance man’ of coffee. Why? He’s the founder of La Accademia del Caffe Carbone Espresso, Caracas, where he educates students about specialty coffee ‘from bean to cup’ including roasting, barista & brewing skills.
As a, a SCAE Coffee Diploma holder, knows his beans, and has has studied with the Istituto Nazionale Espresso Italiano (INEI) & Istituto Internazionale Assagiatore Caffe (IIAC) in Italy and has even written a book entitled “Pasion por el cafe” (more info see here). Pietro’s current projects include; pioneering the Venezuelan ‘third wave’ via opening the 1st specialty coffee bar & working directly with Venezuelan farmers to produce high quality beans for roasting.
Before We Talked About the Venezuelan Coffee Industry, We Learned About Pietro…
What does coffee mean to you?
For me coffee is a passion, a way of life, a lifestyle, love, and a path to greatness, from bean to cup.
What do you believe ‘specialty coffee’ can become?
In a perfect world, I think specialty coffee would become the primary coffee of every coffee producing nation. It will become a ‘norm’ in the coffee industry.
What was your first encounter with coffee?
As my family is Italian, we have the coffee in our blood. I remember every Sunday afternoon at my Nonna’s (grandma’s) house, when she would make several moka pots for the children, and served the coffee with savoiardi (iconic light and sweet Italian sponge biscuits roughly shaped like a finger) while the Nonno’s (elderly folks) played Sicilian cards games. Also, every morning before school, my mother would prepare a moka pot of coffee just for me.
Name your most outstanding coffee moment.
My most memorable moment was when I pulled my first shot of espresso with a professional coffee machine. I wanted to learn even more, so became a coffee roaster. Hearing that first crack of roasting beans became another one of my most memorable coffee moments.
Q & A on Venezuelan Coffee Industry
Who are most important players in the national coffee industry?
In my country, the most important player is the government, because they control almost all the coffee we have. But in recent years smaller producers are appearing who try to produce the best coffee possible. There is a predominant coffee growing region, named Caripe, in Estado Monagas. In this region, certain producers go to great efforts to produce coffee to specialty standard.
Where is coffee going?
Coffee is going to be the next wine. The tastes are getting better not only due to the efforts of producers but also due to new brewing methods. New flavors and bodies are being developed which offer customers special experiences. I think that a trend is to drink single origin coffee therefore the traceability of the coffee’s origin is becoming very important. The WBC is a window to specialty coffee, but we need to undestand what really makes good coffee beyond presentation.
Have you noticed an impact of the Third Wave or Specialty Coffee?
As barista, instructor and roaster, it’s our job to be experimental and innovative within the coffee industry. The third wave will bring about a new respect for new brewing methods and the crucial role baristas play.
How do the most successful brands market themselves?
In my country everething is matter of price, but we are opening the doors to the 3rd wave, so motivated customers are searching for real origins, flavors, and good cupping notes.
What’s on the front of the most successful coffee bags?
Traceability, including the real origin, altitude, cupping notes, and year of the crop
What happens at a producing country? What coffee gets imported and exported?
We have several problems in producing countries. I’ve realized that in these countries, the consumers do not necessarily appreciate the coffee, and don’t want to pay more for better quality. It’s a matter of informing potential consumers, who will then appreciate a better cup!
Perfect Daily Grind.