MUMAC Academy Talks – Paolo Scimone

MUMAC Academy Talks, the format devoted to coffee professionals’ stories is back: the sixth episode features a journey into fully-automatics (and other models).

Paolo Scimone, an ambassador and consultant with more than 13 years of experience in the coffee industry, stars in the sixth episode. Together, we discuss the world of fully-automatics, such as LaCimbali S15.

Over 13 years of experience using more than 90 different models of coffee roasting machines (both drum and fluidized-bed roasters) in 16 different countries (including Asia, Africa, Europe and the Middle East), where he has worked as a consultant for various roasting companies, receiving numerous awards. Paolo Scimone, born 1983, is the star of the sixth episode of MUMAC Academy Talks, the first format dedicated to the stories of coffee professionals and their professional, technological and training experiences.

Among his achievements and goals, Paolo holds the Italian Espresso Taster License from the IIAC (International Institute of Coffee Tasters), for which he also serves as a Trainer. He is also a National Sensory Judge for WCE competitions, Research Advisor for Scentone (a South Korean leading Sensory Kit manufacturer), and founder and owner of His Majesty the Coffee (a specialty coffee roasting company based in Italy) and We Roast (a co-roasting space based in London, UK).

He holds a master’s degree in blending (from Sandalj Coffee Training Academy in Trieste) and another in sensory analysis and coffee science (senses, brain, sensory analysis, sensory characterization of single origins and blends, the science of roasting, the art of blending) awarded by IIAC.

In your work as a consultant, what kind of customers do you usually work with?

“My work fortunately allows me to deal with various businesses, from the smallest roasteries to multinational corporations. I consider myself very lucky, because this gives me a very broad and up-to-date understanding of the market that I would not have if I was always confined in my laboratory. Requests from customers range from a simple roasting course to the development of new blends and roasting profiles that need to be adjusted.”

Which machines do you currently find yourself recommending more often: traditional or  fully-automatic?

“I’m a big fan of fully-automatic machines, so I might sound biased, but I think you can’t generalize: I’d recommend both technologies, since requirements always vary. To simplify my thinking into a few words: in situations where the core business is not coffee, as in hotels, restaurants, bistros, lounges, trains, ships, and offices, I would instantly recommend a fully-automatic like LaCimbali S15, because you don’t tend to have the resources and time to invest in constantly training dedicated staff. By contrast, if we’re talking about environments where baristas still make a difference, traditional machines are more suitable and customers choose these places because of their professionalism and experience.”

What features should machines have?

“In my view, a coffee machine (traditional or fully-automatic) should be a triumph of technology! Thanks to my studies, I have always had an engineering approach and for me there is no such thing as empirical: everything must be based on hard numbers and be aided, as much as possible, by technology in the form of automation. Anything that helps baristas be consistent in their work is welcome.”

In a previous interview, we discussed how fully-automatic machines are perceived by end customers. How do businesses see it when they are offered a fully-automatic machine?

“In Italy there is still a fair amount of scepticism towards these solutions, which are perceived as vending machines. I think this is a cultural problem that may change with the new generation. Outside Italy, they have spread far and wide. I dream of seeing a specialty coffee shop that exclusively serves coffee with a fully-automatic… we’ll get there! Or if we don’t get there, I’ll open it with an S30, a machine I have in my workshop and am very attached to.”

From a micro-roaster’s standpoint, what is the utility of a fully-automatic machine?

“For a micro-roaster, a fully-automatic can provide a key. We undoubtedly need to focus on the final product, without dwelling on the typical technicalities of ‘nerdy’ baristas, which are very useful in other circumstances, but totally counterproductive in environments such as offices or other places where we go to offer fully-automatics.”

How important do you think training is in businesses that use fully-automatic machines? 

“Training is always important. In this case, it may take on a different form since we don’t have to teach a series of mechanical movements to baristas, but rather turn them into minor technicians who handle all operations on fully-automatics, while always keeping the machines clean.”

LET ME TELL YOU A STORY: THE FACES OF ESPRESSO - Part 6