Everyone knows that Italy does espresso…but does she always do it well? To me, that answer has always been questionable especially in Florence. What????? Is she criticizing Italian espresso??? Well, kinda!
To be fair, Seattle has a pretty solid coffee culture and people are pretty serious about roasting, machinery, pulls bla bla bla. I might have mentioned this already once or twice on the blog- but Seattle definitely spoiled me on the quality coffee front. And NOT Starbucks- not so keen on burnt espresso doused in a million syrups and factory milk!
In 2013, I magically stumbled upon Ditta Artigianale on one of my favorite boulevards in Florence: Via de’ Neri (also home to the ridiculously successful panini shop/hole-in-the-wall All’Antico Vinaio and Gelateria de’ Neri). I felt like it was too good to be true: proper espresso pulled perfectly to the 6th second (or whatever second that makes it perfect), emphasis on bean variety and provenance, people who pay attention to how hard they tamp the espresso gasket, probably cleaning the machines properly, cold brew, pour-over, chemex and consistently well steamed milk. Good music, vintage decor, a contemporary vibe and a place to sit down and chill over a steller espresso or coffee drink. It wasn’t soon after that this extremely driven artist (Francesco Sanapo) went on to take over the coffee world in Florence and win coffee competitions left and right. In addition to Francesco Sanapo’s obsession with good coffee, he happens to have a fixation with craft gin- and offers valid cocktails in the evening hours along with some delightful aperitivo “tapas-style” snacks.
I appreciate coffee culture in Italy- there is something special about the act of going to “the bar” and the old school coffee spots with traditional brioche and other breakfast sweets. But I also have observed that the importance of the nostalgic ritual of coffee in Italy takes precedence over quality and innovation. There needs to be a balance which remembers/respects the tradition, while moving ahead and improving. I like that at Ditta Artigianale, not only do their ethos emphasize the end product, but that also it is full of social energy. People come to study, to meet, to dwell or to listen to music in the evening over a craft cocktail. And that is something worth praising.
Now less than 3 years later, Francesco is opening a second location in the Oltrarno. I found the news release via Gambero Rosso so the following information has been digested and translated from the article which seems to be one of the first to announce this upcoming opening. (Original article here by Gambero Rosso– pretty great, informative authoritative source for food, drink and wine news/resources in Italy)
The second location will be on Via dello Sprone 3 in the Oltrarno district just off of Piazza della Passera and is projected to open in the 1st week of March- just around the corner! It sounds really exciting, apparently there will be 2 levels: the ground floor will be dedicated to the cafe’, the dining space and the cocktail bar. Upstairs will be more lounge-y with couches and tables with a sort of vintage 50’s feel. PLUS there is some talk about getting a distilling machine (sounds way hotter in Italian: distillatore which could be distillator in English but supposedly that’s not officially a term?) Anyways they plan on distilling their own house-made gin made from Tuscan-grown Juniper berries! Plus all the usual good stuff they already do: live music evenings, aperitivo, brunch (which is alright- not my thing but I can see it can be for some), lunch and stellar pastries and their popular carrot cake (again, not my thing). I personally just stick with their coffee, maybe sometimes a cupcake because that is one of my obsessions, and their cocktail with tapas aperitivo.
Original Flagship: Ditta Artigianale | Via De’ Neri 32R | Florence, Italy | Facebook | Website
New Location (March 2016): Ditta Artigianale | Via dello Sprone 3 | Florence, Italy
In your caffeinated buzz,
For more espresso, visit this post I wrote on The best coffee bars and cafes in Florence.
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