Last week attended the Soyuz Coffee Roasters pop-up cafe in Red Square, staffed by 7 National Champion baristas from around the world. This week we’ll be profiling each of them, and today we’re featuring Francesco Sanapo, Barista Champion of Italy.

Unofficial class clown and reigning ladies man of the Red Square 7, Francesco Sanapo brings an unbridled passion to life and coffee that is a joy to behold. From his custom-made “Make Coffee, Not War” t-shirts to the truly herculean amount of flirting he engaged in on the streets of Moscow (all in fun, nothing serious!), it was impossible not to be charmed by Francesco’s lust for life, et al. But chatting coffee with Francesco reveals a different side to him, an intense focus and drive to overcome some of the prevailing coffee trends in his native Italy and change the way his countrymen think about coffee.

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“If I want to change things in Italy”, Francesco told Sprudge, “I need to talk to normal people. I want to work with only specialty, and with single origin coffees”. To accomplish this, Francesco will be opening his very own roaster cafe in Florence in 2012. Slated for the Downtown section of Florence, near the Ponte Vecchio, Francesco Sanapo Coffee is a dream long in the works – his current gig is as a barista trainer for other companies and a barista at Cafe Corsini, but soon that will all change.

(That’s Francesco doing the hoisting)

“I start to study roasting first in Italy, and also in Denmark and Germany”, Francesco said, paying homage to the education and experience necessary to make the jump from barista to roaster. He’s planning to feature his roastworks prominently in the cafe space: “In Italy, if you want to show the difference, I think it is important to show. I want to have my roaster in the window. In Italy this is very unusual, but I want to show why my coffee, Francesco Sanapo Coffee, is very different”.

Winning the Italian Barista Championship has afforded Francesco a special opportunity in his coffee community. “Now, since I win, many young people follow me, because I am the barista champion. It is so exciting to me, and I want to make a change and microroast in Florence.” Put Sprudge at the top of the list for international coffee watchers keeping a close eye on Francesco Sanapo Coffee in the coming year. If the cafe is half as charming as the man himself, FSC could very well be a game changer for the Italian coffee scene in 2012.

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