Francesco’s Dream of a Roastery in Copenhagen

Meet Francesco Impallomeni

31 Oct 2023

At the heart of the Slow Food Coffee Coalition, there are individuals—farmers, entrepreneurs and coffee lovers—each with their own remarkable story, but all deeply intertwined. What unites us in the coalition is not just signing the manifesto and our shared values, but also simple passion, which inspires us to wake up every day with a mission to bring Good, Clean and Fair coffee into the world.

Our journeys are as diverse as the coffee some of us produce and champion. From the rich soils of coffee plantations to innovative urban ventures, we are united by a shared vision: to make coffee a force for good, both for the environment and the people who cultivate it.

This month we tell you the story of Francesco Impallomeni, from the Nordic Roasting Co. in Copenhagen, Denmark, whose goal is “to provide all coffee consumers with high-quality, sustainable and ethically sourced specialty coffee.” The project was conceived by three partners: Francesco from Italy, the head roaster; Jacob from Denmark, the Company´s CEO but also coffee roaster; and Miguel from Colombia, who works on sales and customer relations. Together, in 2020, they decided to open this roastery in Copenhagen.

We spoke with Francesco, a long-time Slow Food activist and former international Slow Food staff member, to find out more about how he became a roaster and why Denmark.

Francesco Impallomeni at the roastery

The relational aspect of coffee

First of all, have you had your coffee yet? And how do you usually make it?

I’m at home now, so I’ll make a simple drip coffee with a V60. Some days I also love to use a Neapolitan coffee pot. It makes a very good filter coffee and it lets you play with temperatures much more than the moka pot.

When at home, I like to try different coffees from other roasteries and see how different roastings of the same coffee can make a different cup.

What made you decide to open a roastery?

I don’t come from a family of entrepreneurs. It’s a job that you learn by doing and I’m still learning every day.

The passion for coffee came from traveling to coffee-producing countries. Visiting Ethiopia for the first time and seeing where coffee grows wild in the forest, meeting the farmers in person… I have a background in political sciences and international cooperation. So, for me, the human and relational aspect has always been fundamental.

After that, I started asking some Italian roasteries if I could learn from them. At that time, it wasn’t easy, but thanks to Slow Food many opened the doors of their roasteries. There was a lot of reticence in sharing knowledge about roasting—as if there’s some secret recipe. I feel that nowadays there’s more collaboration and openness, especially here in Denmark.

Inside Nordic Roasting Co.

How to become a roaster and which coffee to choose

Why Copenhagen?

Well, first of all the Danish drink a lot of coffee! Secondly, here there’s an openness to different brewing methods, because there’s not one traditional one, like we Italians have with espresso. Third, there’s more awareness about good artisanal coffee at different levels, for example from institutions, companies and the public sector. We supply coffee to many public and private businesses for their morning breaks.

What would you suggest to someone who wants to be a roaster?

Don’t be obsessed with training. Don’t wait to have all the certifications: Go out and start asking to learn on the ground from other roasters. Practice is the best way of learning. Even if things have been done in a certain way for ages, that doesn’t mean they can’t change. I personally prefer to take on board people who don’t have that much previous experience.

So that’s how you choose the people, but how do you choose the coffee you buy?

Because of my studies and my previous working experience, I base a lot of the decision on the story behind the coffee. For example, I wrote my master’s thesis on the genocide in Rwanda. Coffee cultivation there is very closely linked to the reconstruction of the economy after the conflict.

Similarly, in Colombia the coffee cultivation industry offers a different means of sustenance for communities where illegal drug trafficking is still very present.

However, the story itself is not enough. We also need to buy and roast coffee that is good from a sensory point of view and that makes a clean cup. Whenever we can, we also try to do business directly with the producers, but when we can’t, we work with traders who share our vision and work transparently.

Quality and sustainability need to go hand in hand. If people don’t make it part of their daily consumption, the product cannot survive. After that the project comes to an end.

Do you always buy the same coffee or do you tend to change?

Both. We like to vary, also because microlots are very much related to a specific year. There’s new innovation all the time. However, we all have a conservative part in us. That’s why we have blends that we specifically make to have the same flavor profile from year to year. Then there’s the relationship with the farmers. We have long-standing relationships with some of them, for example Yiver Vargas, a Colombian farmer we’ve bought coffee from for the past six years, with whom we have a strong relationship of trust and friendship.


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The importance of the Slow Food Coffee Caolition

Why is it important for you to be part of the Coffee Coalition? 

First of all, the Coffee Coalition network helps me, as a roaster, to have direct contact with producers and to go back to the places where I first fell in love with coffee.

Then, obviously, it can be a marketing opportunity for us to showcase the roastery through new channels and to participate in events organized by Slow Food.

For example, last year we had two producers from the Coffee Coalition who we buy from, Cesar Marin from Peru and Efraín Lechuga from Mexico, here in Copenhagen to meet our customers and the local Slow Food network. This is an opportunity that the network can definitely give to the roasteries, if they’re willing to open their doors. Consumers are not used to knowing the coffee producers and it’s a great opportunity to spread awareness about the supply chain.

Our idea of the Coffee Coalition is to eliminate barriers, both cultural and geographical. Today it’s easier than ever, both in terms of communication and travel.

What if people want to come meet you?

You can find us at the roastery! And keep an eye out because we often organize events like trainings, team-building activities, cuppings etc.

Also, in June 2024 the World of Coffee event will take place in Copenhagen and we want to organize many side events at the roastery. Coming together there as the Coffee Coalition will be a great opportunity to expand the network.

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