"Prendiamo un caffè?" – "Care for a coffee?"
In Italy, anyone you encounter will probably extend an invitation for an espresso.
Coffee, in this country, is a cherished ritual accompanying daily breaks, and Italians rank among the world's foremost consumers of this aromatic beverage. Espresso and cappuccino (strictly in the morning) dominate the coffee culture, and seeking a 'good coffee' often involves a visit to a preferred bar. Florence boasts coffee excellence epitomized by Serena Nobili, the third-generation custodian of Dinicaffè, the sole roasting company nestled in Florence's historical center.
Serena, along with her sister Benedetta, presently manages the family business.
The narrative of this venerable Florentine roastery commenced with Alberto Dini in 1939 as a small workshop in the city center. After the 1966 flood, it relocated to the area of San Niccolò, on the hill that leads up to Piazzale Michelangelo. In 1980, Elisabetta and Laura, Alberto's daughters, assumed leadership, transforming the enterprise into an all-female venture. The ensuing years saw the development of a new strategy focusing on quality. Dinicaffè, alongside other notable Italian roasters, established the Certified Specialty Coffee Association (CSC), a consortium safeguarding quality and traceability from plant to cup.
In 2009, Serena and Benedetta succeeded their predecessors, bringing the same passion but adapting to evolving market demands.
Serena, reflecting on her earliest family memory related to coffee, notes that coffee is ingrained in her DNA. As a child, she would 'steal' freshly roasted beans, savoring them like candies.
Roles in the company were a natural division for the sisters. Serena, a Graphic Designer, and Benedetta, a Management Engineer, joined the company in 2009. It wasn't until 2018, following the passing of their aunt, the company's linchpin, that they assumed defined operational and managerial roles. The divergence in their approaches, they believe, contributes to the company's strength.
Serena emphasizes the importance of traceability for coffee quality. Dinicaffè employs 'talking' labels to guide consumers, striving to bring coffee traceability on par with other industries like wine. Serena, a certified Q-grader, explains that the designation signifies expertise in sensory coffee evaluation. The certification, issued by the Coffee Quality Institute (CQI), enhances the entire supply chain's efficiency and transparency.
Serena's quest for the world's finest coffees led her to Ethiopia, a country with a legendary coffee origin. The poverty and lack of infrastructure in contrast to the exceptional coffee left a lasting impression, particularly noting women's pivotal role in the country.
The company's commitment to sustainability extends to social projects supporting women. Partnering with CSC and the non-profit Amka, Dinicaffè contributes to a project empowering 80 Guatemalan women, transforming them from laborers to entrepreneurs, producing the high-quality 'Dona Lucero' coffee supporting 80 families (more - only in Italian).
Do you have a penchant for coffee? Join Serena on a tour of Dinicaffè!
The CoffeeLab Experience, a tour of Dinicaffè's roasting facilities, originated from the curiosity of passersby, prompting Serena to structure an experiential tour to share 'coffee culture' with visitors.
Written by Ilaria Miele & Rebecca Gouttenoire