After living in Italy for eight years I love my coffee. I miss my coffee. I miss my coffee bar. Coffee shops have boomed in the UK since I’ve been away, but it’s not the same. A quick espresso stood at the bar, taking less than three minutes in total to order, make and consume is not something that easily translates. I’ve been back in the UK for a couple of years now and I am still desperately trying to recreate the Italian coffee bar atmosphere. So I seek out any little bit of Italy I can find.
Which led me to Casa Espresso, Bradford roasters and suppliers of premium quality coffee beans and espresso machinery across Yorkshire.
I met owner Nino di Rienzo for a tour of the premises in Shipley and found out more about how Casa Espresso has grown to become a producer of award-winning speciality coffees. Nino’s father, Toni, ran a number of Italian restaurants in Bradford before founding Casa Espresso in 2000 bringing Italian Sanremo espresso machines to the UK and then expanded to importing Italian coffee. Since 2014, Casa Espresso has been roasting its own coffee becoming Bradford’s first micro-roastery. Casa Espresso roasts beans from ethical coffee green importers, helping to support the sustainable development of coffee agriculture. The company can track the beans back to an individual farmer and village.
Nino is passionate about his product and certainly knows his coffee. My tour took me through the entire process from the green coffee beans in their natural state, through the roasting process to sampling a great espresso. From what I learned, I fear my tastes have been ruined in Italy. According to Nino, most Italian coffee bars use commercial grade coffee which is cheaper and has a more bitter taste. I’m a bit upset by this. I’ve complained for years that I can’t get a proper coffee outside of Italy and it turns out it’s better in Bradford? I may die of shame, or pride. I can’t decide which.
Nino is keen to maintain the quality of Casa Espresso’s coffee and the five-kilogramme roaster produces high-quality coffee in small batches. As the flavour comes from the roasting process, this means they can carefully control the taste, quality and aroma of the coffee they produce. As ‘head roaster’ Jonnie watches over the roasting machine, controlling the temperature and timings, waiting for the first pop or ‘click’ of the beans before they are released and cooled. Beans are now freshly roasted three times a week.
It’s well worth a visit for the smell of roasting coffee alone. Casa Espresso produces two espresso blends and a range of single origin coffees from around the globe, which are kept seasonal and fresh. You can buy coffee online, or sign up to the subscription service if you can’t decide which coffee to try first.
Casa Espresso also provides barista courses for people working in coffee shops and for enthusiasts who want to learn more. If that sounds too much like hard work, let the professionals make it for you. Casa Espresso supplies coffee to the following Bradford establishments:
Lefteris Cafe and Guzelian Cafe Bar in Bradford city centre both serve Casa Espresso’s Charlestown blend. Bear’s Den in Sunbridge Wells and the Record Cafe on North Parade also serve Casa Espresso coffees.
Further afield, try Emily’s Birthplace of the Brontes in Thornton, Santoni restaurant in Keighley run by Nino’s brother Marco, the Willow Tree and Nordish in Saltaire, and Idle Coffee Lounge.