FLUID, Florence coffee shop by Le Piantagioni del Caffè
How do you get a message through to a client? This is the question that every new location poses before opening its doors for the first time, after having studied everything in detail: the informal ambiance, the elegant decor, the quality and suitable offer for everyone. Yet it is language that makes the difference: fast, immediate, usable. Inclusive and effective. To talk to people, all of them, and not just to a small niche of professionals and enthusiasts. Like the curious case of the last opening on the Florentine scene, a place capable of interacting with the youngest target audience, and more generally to people. The customer is at the centre, always. It's evident from the seating at the entrance on the left, leather cushions raised on a step that at first glance look like tables, sockets for charging laptops and mobile phones scattered everywhere, large tables for the opportunity to stop and work or study while sipping something, and the long 6-metre counter that welcomes customers by placing them immediately in front of the barista. The name is FLUID - Specialty coffee & sharing and it's the first coffee bar opened by the Livorno-based roasting company Le Piantagioni del Caffè together with consulting company IDEA Food & Beverage. The same company that took care of the rebranding of the Tuscan reality, a popular company in the world of coffee and that has kept up with the times, renovating the look with white packaging and different colourful figures: a few strong traits and warm tones that entice you to taste, dedicated to those that the roasters team calls the Specialty People, the people of coffee.
FLUID, coffee bar for Specialty People
Hence why the name FLUID - designed by Margstudio - is a coffee bar "for people": a place that aims to educate consumers through conviviality, lightheartedness, and simplicity. By breaking down the barriers generated by a product that presents many complexities, even in its furnishings: thanks to the Modbar de La Marzocco espresso machines, which hide the mechanisms and leave only extraction in sight, between baristas and customers there is no longer a separation. There is nothing separating them except the drink itself, which becomes the centre of dialogue. Specialty coffee, to be precise, the one selected, roasted and extracted following due care, served with detailed explanations. Always keeping a light-hearted tone and the typical language of Millennials but especially of GenZ, folks born in the late 90’s and the 10’s of the twenty-first millennium, who can find here an open, sincere and welcoming space. Where they can enjoy a good espresso or a filter coffee, but above all learn, find a different approach to black gold, starting from a series of clichés and rumours that for so (too long) have blocked the spread of a new culture of coffee in Italy.
Florence, the capital of good coffee in Italy
The change starts in Florence, which proves once again to be the capital of good coffee in Italy, an evolution occurred mainly thanks to Francesco Sanapo and his 4 coffee bars (the last opened just over a month), in addition to the school in the former convent of Sant'Ambrogio, without forgetting the venues born in recent years that have increasingly elevated the level of the city bars (think Coffee Mantra, Symbiosis, Piansa, just to name a few). But then the goal is to open in Milan within the year, before moving on to other Italian locations. "We chose this city because it is dynamic, curious, and ready to make great strides forward," commented Prunella Meschini, Iacopo Bargoni and Giuseppe Adelardi, founders of the project. "It is here that we are certain that a new wave can start around the coffee of single plantations, around the specialties and extractions alternatives to espresso." but the place has already started with a soft opening for a month and the customers seem to respond well: "We already received an initial feedback: over 20% of the coffee sold during the pre-inauguration phase was specialty filter coffee."
The offer at FLUID: espresso, filtre, sandwiches, croissants and fermented foods
The menu clearly includes also classic espresso, available in different single origin beans, but it is on the filter coffee that now the management is focussing (after all, it is also the most convivial drink, to share and taste together at the table). Great caffeinated beverages here, victuals are present thanks to the collaboration of several professionals. There is no kitchen, the staff (very young and professional) assembles the products, all of high quality. The bread is by David Bedu, reference for the Florentine baking art, while the fillings are created by the Bedussi pastry production in Brescia: choose between savoury croissants (also in vegetarian version), sandwiches, fresh salads and vegan options, combined with filter coffees or an excellent kombucha fermented coffee-based drink made alongside creative fermentation masters Livebarrels. The menu is in constant evolution - and still under construction - and soon there will also be cocktails designed by Oscar Quagliarini, for a quality aperitif a stone’s throw from Piazza Beccaria, a bustling area of great passage, ideal for a new and original place like FLUID.
Is it time for Fourth Wave coffee?
A different coffee bar, also in the decor: no industrial style, all made of wood and steel as in the characteristic Third Wave of coffee throughout Europe, but rather bright and pop colours, walls with drawings, neon lettering and shelves filled with coffee packs that immediately catch the attention of customers. Another novelty, again to allow consumers to be the protagonists is the poursteady, a chemex workstation where, after ordering through an app, coffee-lovers can extract their own filter coffee independently. And who knows, maybe get passionate and continue even at home... What is certain is that the so-called Third Wave - which has also landed in Italy, albeit with the due differences and limits that we have analysed several times in recent years - is coming to an end. Communication of the coffee world has reached a turning point, the language must change, become simpler, direct, inclusive. We do not know for sure whether Italian consumers will be ready to accept a new way of conceiving coffee, but the new generations, free from prejudice and more sensitive to taste, will certainly change the cards on the table. Black gold is finally (and painstakingly) taking its place in the dining world, laying the foundations for a new revolution, the fourth. And Italy this time cannot afford to stay behind. A gradual evolution, especially when carrying a fascinating but also cumbersome cultural baggage like Italy does, but unstoppable, too. And a bar like FLUID can only be an example for everyone else to come.
FLUID – Specialty Coffee & Sharing – Florence – Borgo La Croce, 59 r – facebook.com/fluidspecialty
by Michela Becchi