Ditta Artigianale opens new café in former monastery
A new cafeteria by Ditta Artigianale and Hario Café has opened up in Florence, in the former monastery of Sant’Ambrogio. The café is the first of its kind to host a Coffee School, an international academy dedicated to the diffusion of specialty coffee culture, aside from also being a permanent educational spot and a meeting place for each and every coffee lover. After not being used for 35 years, on top of a complex restoration process which lasted four years, the former monastery of Sant’Ambrogio, in the heart of the city, has now back to life.
The restoration project of the medieval compound located in via Carducci (2-4) was done in collaboration with Comune di Firenze and with the support of ASP Montedomini, owner of the spaces. ‘Ditta Artigianale Carducci’ is the third store in Florence – after via De Neri which opened in 2014 and via dello Sprone in 2016. The group is founded by Francesco Sanapo and Patrick Hoffer, the first line of specialty coffee stores in Italy and a microroaster dedicated to conscious consumption and a responsible supply chain.
Technical partners of the Coffee School, which will begin its classes next September, will be key players in developing its success. Hario is the Japan-based world famous brewery tools company known all over the world for the beauty of its shapes as well as the precision and functionality of its tools and equipment for alternative coffee extractions. Simonelli Group is known as an international level expert in the creation of coffee machines, especially its espresso machines. Local partners include Caffè Corsini, a worldwide ambassador of quality coffee roasted in Tuscany, as well as Confcommercio Firenze.
The historic classic Tuscan spaces fuse with contemporary interiors creating an international atmosphere. This was the main focus of the renovation project for the 300 square metre café designed by Studio Q-bic, founded by the architects Luca and Marco Baldini. Landscape architect Nicolò Mori has given new lustre to the cloister, maintaining the typical monastic garden structure but introducing new plants such as bergamot and almond trees. Maura Masini also restored the ancient well, the fountain as well as all other serena stone elements present in the complex.
The Scuola del Caffè is in the former refectory, overlooking the cloister, whilst the premises overlooking Via Carducci is the heart of the café. The school, born from the necessity of creating an international meeting place for the coffee industry, aims to become a reference point for baristas, roasters, tasters and “coffee lover” enthusiasts. Its primary aim is to educate with respect to sustainability, innovation and expertise within the complex world of coffee. The staff is extremely well versed on cutting edge technology as well as contemporary techniques to roast, brew and taste the precious resource. The Director of the school is Simone Amenini who will teach alongside Italian Barista Champion Francesco Masciullo. The school will host a variety of classes, a CQI – Coffee Quality Institute and SCA Specialty Coffee Association certificated lab, a room for events and a barista shop where to buy specialised tools. Graduates will be eligible for educational internships with third wave coffee companies as well as scholarships for SCA certified courses.
“I put my soul in this place, four years of my life. But it was worth it: it’s the most beautiful café in Europe for me,” declares Patrick Hoffer. “We fought with unforeseen problems and Covid related slowdowns, we faced many hard moments, like when we found out that we had to re-do all of the slabs, but we never gave up and Carducci fully rewarded us. In this place there are many stories running around, there are many little details that were brought back to life and are now visible, exceptional and breathtaking corners, like the old decorative frieze in the middle of an arc that we restored in the former refectory, the niches, the old cellars where monks used to keep food. Ditta Artigianale Carducci is a 14th century spot in a 19th century area of the city, a wonderful mix of styles and ages. I’m happy about this renovation which brings back a timeless flavour, respectful of the history of this place.”
“I believe that this is a new page for the history of coffee in Italy. I strongly wanted a Coffee School, an educational place where to bring passion and professional knowledge which distinguishes Ditta not only in the service but also in the training of new baristas,” says Francesco Sanapo, former barista champion, cup taster and co-creator of Ditta Artigianale. “Here at Ditta we believe it’s fundamental to create a new and more professional background for those who stand behind the counter and that it is necessary to move beyond the figure of the barista who works with no real technical knowledge of the product in favour of a new role model capable of guiding the customer into a gustative experience and who is not limited simply to preparing a fast-consumed espresso. Opening the school in a medieval compound in what I believe to be one of the most beautiful cafes in the world, can only make me proud. We work hard with farmers who grow plantations following the principles of a sustainable development, of the safeguard of the planet and of the maintaining of the top quality of the beans; we respect their work and sacrifice, that’s why we roast our coffee with great care. We study every kind of bean and we regulate the roasting profile in order to increase their flavour and aroma. We train our baristas to teach them not only knowledge, but also passion for a product as precious as our coffee. We want this love to be felt by every customer who steps into our cafés,” he concluded.
Ditta Artigianale has a complete offering, from breakfast to brunch/lunch. Open every day from 8:30 am until midnight, in Ditta Artigianale Carducci, the coffee service is the main offer due to a menu of flavour-rich specialty coffees selected from small producers around the world and roasted in Italy. In the opening week it will be possible to enjoy a unique experience in the world of coffee, with the chance to taste three unique coffees specifically chosen for the occasion from the Colombian farm, Immaculada, of the Holguin family: ‘Sudan Rume Natural’, ‘Laurina Natural’ and ‘Geisha’.
Coffee is freshly served via different methods: from espresso to V60, Syphon, Aeropress, Cold Brew as well as the Steampunk, which introduces a new technique, not very common but extremely versatile.