Francesco Sanapo is a man with a big character and a big passion for coffee. Step inside his new space Ditta Artigianale and you’re likely to be welcomed open-armed, literally. A Florentine with an international background, Francesco has spent years travelling and developing his passion for the black bean, from Brazil to Guatemala and El Salvador, to source the best coffee for your consumption. In 2013 he ranked 6th in the World Barista Championships in Melbourne. Spending two months in the Australian city inspired his vision for Ditta Artigianale, a place where people come for coffee and don't feel the need to leave. As he puts it, “like coming into my apartment, this is my home, you are welcome! Everyone is important.”

The interior styling is reminiscent of the laneway cafes of Melbourne or New York’s Meatpacking district: untreated wood and raw metal shelves storing food products. But more like Francesco’s home, the walls feature pictures taken during his travels. Light and bright, the large windows open and make it easy to step straight out onto the street from one of the cushioned pews. Only three baristas are allowed to touch the coffee machine, such is Francesco’s dedication to making each cup perfect. From simple espresso to filter styles of three brewing methods, this is serious coffee making. Various blends of beans are used, brought by Francesco direct from suppliers met during his travels, with the food dishes made to match the coffee, just like wine is paired with food. A brunch menu is served that includes pancakes, French toast, omelettes and croque monsieur from the open kitchen.

At 7pm it’s time for "ginspirtation" with cocktails made by "gin sommelier" Cecilia. Why gin? Francesco's business partner, a gin aficionado, was taken by the delicacy of the botanicals and how different brands taste, much like with coffee beans and the duo now offer over 50 brands to choose from. My suggestion, A.J. Negroni – gin, Campari, vermouth rosso and caffe. Light tapas plates are also served in four styles: vegan, vegetarian, fish and meat from 4 euros.

But back to the coffee. Francesco tells me it’s the second most popular drink in the world after water and the one word which everyone knows.

“What do you call coffee in your language?” he asks. “Coffee”, I reply.

“And in UK? In USA? In Italy?” I ponder this.

“Coffee is international,” he declares proudly. And when it tastes this good, who am I to argue?

Photo credit: Beatrice Mancini