CHIARA BERGONZI TO BARISTAS: TO GROW, WE NEED TO RAISE THE BAR
Up close and personal with Chiara Bergonzi, Italian Latte Art Champion from 2012 to 2014 and runner-up at the 2014 Melbourne World Championship. Currently an international judge and trainer, in this interview Chiara traces her professional path and specialisation in the world of coffee, offering valuable insights into embarking on a career in this sector and the current state of the industry.
Hello Chiara, is it too obvious to ask you where your passions lie?
I’d say not, given that when I was 11 I hoped to become a professional dancer! But life has opened up other avenues. I first became passionate about this world at the age of 18, when I opened a bar in Piacenza with some friends. Four years later I managed a French Boulangerie-Patisserie. But a training course with Luigi Lupi gave birth to my passion for Latte Art, leading me to go to Japan to learn pouring techniques and join my first professional competitions in 2012.
A passion that has grown over the years…
Yes, initially owning the bar was more of a challenge than anything else. I have never been frightened by responsibility or long working hours. Even today, I still regularly work from 8:00 am to 11:00 pm, but otherwise I’d just get bored! It wasn’t till later, with the SCA courses, that I decided to specialise in the decoration of cappuccinos and to immerse myself fully in the world of coffee. The study of the raw material, research and training still fascinate me today.
What are the ingredients to do well in your line of work?
First of all, loving what you do – if you don’t, people can perceive that. Secondly, training, the importance of which is still underestimated by many industry operators and end consumers. Finally, building good professional relations: skills are essential, but it is equally important to remain humble and honest. This has helped me considerably in my career.
Great success can often lead to pressure and difficulties. Have you any advice for those embarking on a similar path to yours?
I would tell them to only get into this line of business if they are really motivated, as otherwise it can be difficult to handle all the studying and investments. I would also advise them to listen to those who have achieved concrete results, because actions speak louder than words. However, it all depends on your goal: if you want to make it, that is, if you want to gain greater credibility and visibility, you need to invest time and resources in training, and you must be prepared for a lifestyle that often involves many sacrifices. This is certainly a sector with a large margin of growth: in Italy, training linked to the so-called “third wave” is still ongoing, maybe even just kicking off, and since on average there is a bar for every 300 people, opportunities are certainly not lacking!