In the mood for coffee: Interview with Alessandro Galtieri

Alessandro Galtieri

When Alessandro Galtieri prepares coffee his gaze changes. Like a Greek statue in motion, every muscle of his slim body become focused on the action.

I've interviewed Alessandro during this forced hiatus, to ask him how good coffee can make life better.

Alessandro Galtieri Coffee

Alessandro Galtieri serves espresso during our Bologna food tour

Who is Alessandro Galtieri

Owner of Aroma Caffè, the must-start of our Bologna food tour, winner of coffee prizes around the globe, trainer of the SCA (Specialty Coffee Association).

If you ask for coffee in Bologna, Alessandro is the answer.

He wrote 3 handbooks for the perfect barista including The Barista reference book.

In 2020 he published a new book on alternative brewing methods entitled Oltre l'Espresso (only in Italian at the moment).

They are suitable for both baristas and passionate home Baristas and home Brewers who want to know the correct techniques for proper extractions.

The interview

Alessandro, you’ve spent the last 25 years studying and serving coffee. When did this passion start? What’s so special in a cup of coffee?

I have always identified coffee as the main product of a bar.
So when I bought Aroma Caffè in 1994, I started looking for information on coffee to improve my offer.

At that time getting information about coffee was very hard. The Internet didn't exist yet, books on the subject were not available. The only contact with the coffee industry was the roasting companies commercial agents, more qualified on the selling aspect than on coffee.

Finally one day, now 24 years ago, a new micro-roaster opened its doors in Bologna. The roaster, Leonardo Lelli, gave me all the information I wanted and made me taste my first single-origin coffee. Before that, I was wondering what could be special about a cup of coffee.

Tasting the sweetness, the aromatic intensity and the enveloping body of that coffee: I had the answer in an instant.
However it's not something that you can put into words: specialty coffee is an emotion, you have to try it by yourself.

Your first book is a manual for the perfect barista. What people have to look at when they enter a coffee bar to know they are in the right place?

The indicators of an excellent bar?
Courteous and professional operators, trained on international recipes and ways of drinking coffee, like Flat White, Cold Brew, etc.

Top cleanliness of the espresso machine and grinders, care of the extraction.

As well as the presentation and a nice list of coffees of various origins to choose from, in espresso or in Brewing.

Alessandro Galtieri coffee

Alessando teaching how moka works

During this never-ending lockdown, I'm preparing coffee at least twice a day at home. How can I improve its quality?

Dear Andrea, everything is in love! (someone else must have already said this sentence ;)

When you love someone you want him/her to be happy, but you don't expect the other person to explain what you have to do in detail, that's not how it works. Then you pay attention to her behaviour to pick up the little clues that make you understand what she likes.

The same principle applies to coffee brewing.

You have to write down everything you do when you prepare it. So when you make a small change and get a better result you will have captured a clue to what makes your coffee happy. And if your coffee is happy, so are you.

Alessandro Galtieri Aroma

Alessandro behind the counter of his bar, Aroma Caffè

In your latest book, you write about the alternatives to espresso and I’m starting to see new generations of baristas offering them. Is there life over the espresso in Italy?

It's funny, but many Italians are so faithful to the espresso tradition that they seem afraid of offending its sensitivity by changing the brewing method.

Some of them understood that Espresso is not touchy, so they ventured to explore the alternatives. Then they returned to espresso, enriched by these new experiences.

These "faithless" are growing in number but are still considered freaks. It will take time.

I need to ask you about the current situation. Did you get something good from this?

The current situation doesn't offer much, it's very stingy actually.

The limitations imposed by the pandemic have put a strain on the hospital. But another precious resource has been released: time.

From the current situation, I took the time to write and update my books, to do research and to study. This is a positive aspect for sure.

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