When it comes to coffee, most people simply go with what’s available, perhaps compromising at the three-way intersection of the convenience and the atmosphere of the nearest café and the taste of its product, or making a rather random choice at the grocery store based on whatever coffeemaker they happen to have or the effectiveness of a company’s branding. Others, however, approach coffee as an art and a science, preferring to brew (even roast) their own, experimenting with equipment, method, beans, roast and grind.
From a business perspective, the distance between the two groups of coffee-drinkers seems unbridgeable. The pursuit of the perfect cup, whether by moka, French press or pour-over of beans from Central America or Africa, Hawaii or Nepal, is a passion that Florentine entrepreneur Leonardo Bernini understands—and shares. But the savvy 24-year-old knows that even average Joe’s might enjoy a cup of something less left to fate. Recognizing that the coffee sold at the store or the neighborhood bar is a blend, he wondered: What if it were possible to purchase a blend of beans to match individual preferences?
And that’s the bridge Bernini is building, one bespoke blend at a time, using the online technology (and habits) that now makes it easy for both consumers and purveyors of small-batch/on demand products to find each other.
Up to now, creating a signature blend has been ‘reserved only for those who are specifically working in the coffee industry,’ explains Bernini. His idea: ‘let any coffee lover create his or her own personal blend.’
With the goal of enhancing the coffee experience for everybody, Bernini started Caffé Lab (www.caffelab.it). Yes, Caffé Lab can outfit the most serious coffee connoisseur—Bernini stocks everything from pens for making latte art to countertop expresso machines and thermometers for DIY roasting and 18 varieties of green beans. But Caffé Lab also invites not only bars to create signature blends but individuals to create their own customized coffee blends.
Caffé Lab’s online process for producing a bespoke brew involves making a series of choices based on method (moka, espresso machine, filtered, aeropress) and preferences for body, bitterness, acidity, sweetness and aroma. The customization doesn’t end there: the process even includes an invitation to create a name for the brew or dedicate it to a special someone.
‘What might seem difficult for the average coffee lover to do on his own, we’ve made easier and more accessible to the wider public,’ says Bernini.