A groundbreaking report on coffee industry has been presented, a striking video on Naples aired – and the controversy is served. To dispel any doubt, the only thing to be done now is to watch “Report” TV program on 7th April.
Andrej Godina is in the eye of the storm: the expert taster gave a ‘fail’ mark to an espresso served at Gran Caffè Gambrinus, one of the most renowned cafés in Naples. His negative evaluation has enraged public opinion over the last few days. The trailer that has been aired is just a small part of the report that the Italian TV channel Rai 3 is airing on 7th April at 9:00 pm. It was produced by Bernardo Iovene, a journalist working for “Report” journalistic TV program who accompanied Mr. Godina in his visit of some coffee bars and cafés in Naples. It is an investigation carried out with the aim of providing an exhaustive view of the coffee sector in Italy. As Mr. Iovene himself stated, this investigation is not meant to focus on Naples alone, but rather to highlight “the quality of coffee we drink in Italy, the professionalism of baristas and of the other staff involved, the pureness of coffee blends in use and the influence of roasting companies on the consumption of this product”.
What happened, actually, at Caffè Gambrinus in Naples? Mr. Godina and the “Report” troupe followed the typical tourist itinerary through the city centre, from the railway station to Piazza del Plebiscito. The same was done in Florence, as well. Along the itinerary, this singular “tourist” entered many cafés where he could taste the traditional espresso and his discoveries were not so positive. To those who accused him of providing a subjective, non-impartial judgment, he replies: “I have a long experience in coffee tasting and have been meeting and debating with many Italian and international roasters through the years. I am certainly aware of the fact that different Italian regions have different tastes as far as coffee is concerned. Nevertheless, there is actually a widely recognised definition for “espresso coffee”: a drink that is extracted with a precise method and is characterised by a thick, more or less finely-textured and persistent crema on its surface. Besides, apart from the perception of its aromatic notes – which can be characterised by a certain amount of subjectivity – product defects can actually be objectively found”. By ‘defects’ we mean, for example, the mouldy, woody or earthy flavours that are associated with poor-quality coffee beans, the rancid flavour due to an incorrect preservation of coffee and to an insufficient cleaning of machine and coffee-grinder and, finally, the typical burnt flavour that can result from over-roasting or from mistakes in coffee extraction.
Andrej Godina has grown in the coffee sector and has investigated this subject thoroughly, also thanks to his Ph.D. studies. He was involved in the journalistic investigation in quality of impartial specialised consultant. He has collaborated with many major roaster and companies in the coffee sector all over Italy, but operates independently.
Over the last year, he has been promoting the event “Io bevo caffè di qualità” – (“I drink quality coffee”) aimed at raising people’s awareness about coffee –, which has involved consumers and professionals in a educational/tasting ‘itinerary’ that includes different extraction techniques and has recorded very high participation so far.
This is the actual focus, as Andrej Godina himself states: “My intention is not to attack Neapolitan coffee tradition and culture at all. If this is the message that has gone through, I apologise with all Neapolitan citizens in full respect of the habits and tastes they are rightly fond of. What I fight for is coffee’s objective quality, both as regards raw material and result in cup. Just as the culture of good wine has finally been affirmed in Italy, we must join up to spread the knowledge of good coffee”. By spreading information and by investigating coffee from plant to cup, “we will be able to recognise actual quality, award it and finally give an added value to a product we love very much but, unfortunately, we still don’t know well”, Mr. Godina concludes.
While waiting to discover what the “Report” journalists have actually reported, Mr. Godina is at disposal of other expert tasters for a face-to-face debate and – why not? – for organizing a meeting in Naples, maybe at Caffè Gambrinus once again.
Andrej Godina’s brief professional profile: in 1997 he became a marine and cargo surveyor, specialised in coffee, and was entered in the register of the Chamber of Commerce of Trieste; in 2008 he obtained the Ph.D. in Science, Technology and Economics in Coffee Industry at the University of Trieste. Member and Master Barista of the Speciality Coffee Association of Europe – SCAE, he has obtained all the Certifications of the Coffee Diploma System (http://scae.com/education/cds-certified-list.html) and has become an authorised SCAE trainer. In 2013 he was awarded the prize of best authorised SCAE trainer. He has been providing technical advice to roasters and companies of the sector throughout Italy, selecting coffees for the creation of blends and teaching in training and certification courses.