Roberto Messineo: “visionary” Roastery Master

To ack­no­w­led­ge that the world of Caf­fè San Dome­ni­co by Rober­to Mes­si­neo in Sant’Antonino, Val di Susa, has spread eve­ry­whe­re, but it is still kee­ping its core in Pied­mont, is for us hear­te­ning. Rober­to is an arti­san very atten­ti­ve to inno­va­tion and with a great capa­bi­li­ty in “liste­ning” to human needs, and it is true what he says, that we are all inter­re­la­ted and it doesn’t real­ly mat­ter from whe­re the pro­duc­tion chain fir­st starts. But its roo­ts are impor­tant, and they are in Sant’Antonino.  Sum­ma­ri­zing his acti­vi­ty is long indeed and it is well descri­bed on his web­si­te (

We have to spe­ci­fy that Caf­fe’ San Dome­ni­co repre­sen­ts a hand­ma­de acti­vi­ty that pri­vi­le­ges high-qua­li­ty pro­duc­ts. The Roa­ste­ry Master fol­lo­ws the enti­re manu­fac­tu­ring pro­cess: care­ful choi­ce of raw green cof­fee beans, roa­sting still in wood, with the deli­ca­te bir­ch­wood, over low heat, and so on until when their taste, fra­gran­ce, and “sound” are per­cei­ved.  Here lies his core busi­ness, some­thing he has never left, sin­ce when he was a young man and met a roa­ster, who ope­ned to Rober­to the doors of his work­shop and the pages of his reci­pe book: “The old craf­tsmen were very reluc­tant to share their exper­ti­se. Nowa­days this beha­vior may be real­ly dan­ge­rous”, he tells us. 

We know that in his pro­fes­sio­nal evo­lu­tion he made a lot of expe­rien­ces. He often flies high, as from his Aero­nau­ti­cal con­struc­tion cer­ti­fi­ca­te… An eclec­tic atti­tu­de, intel­lec­tual curio­si­ty, easi­ness of inter­per­so­nal rela­tion­ships, all of them indi­vi­dual cha­rac­te­ri­stics, are most impor­tant. But as it may occur in other arti­sa­nal bran­ches, a who­le world reveals to him, from the coo­pe­ra­tion with inter­na­tio­nal food­ser­vi­ce brands to his enga­ge­ment as a tea­cher or the­sis advi­sor in reno­w­ned Uni­ver­si­ties, from his cof­fee tra­cea­bi­li­ty with bloc­k­chain to the role of Cof­fee Ambas­sa­dor at Mila­no Expo on behalf of Slow Food and Rai Expo. And a lot more all around the world. Rober­to can reveal all the cul­tu­re, crea­ti­vi­ty, sha­ring, and research that deve­lop after the coffee. 

“Each craf­tsman must reco­ver the exper­ti­se of the ancient work­shops of the Renais­san­ce, whe­re the care for details used to make the dif­fe­ren­ce. Today it is the time of “all and now”. On the con­tra­ry, this atti­tu­de requi­res patien­ce, time, and the pos­si­bi­li­ty for errors, in order to attain a uni­que and supe­rior qua­li­ty pro­duct. Also, mul­ti­na­tio­nal cor­po­ra­tions often recall in their adver­ti­se­men­ts the hand­ma­de pro­duc­tion, even if they are far away from it becau­se that kind of appeal rewards and suc­ces­sful­ly impac­ts the desi­res of the custo­mers. In my opi­nion again­st the myth of mass-pro­duc­tion, the sen­se of the good must reas­sert itself toge­ther with the atten­tion to the detail that com­plies with the traditions”.

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We know, among others, of the upco­ming pro­ject that will even more valo­ri­ze the histo­ri­cal cen­ter of Tori­no: “Yes, we are very quie­tly orga­ni­zing, just a few steps from Piaz­za Cari­gna­no, the ope­ning of a vin­ta­ge work­shop, whe­re paten­ted cap­su­les of plant natu­re will be also sold in pou­ches, toge­ther with cof­fee beans and cof­fee to be roa­sted right at the moment in order to be bought “fresh”. Besi­des the retail, we would like to orga­ni­ze also an onli­ne sto­re throu­gh a cine­ma­tic fra­me in which a salesman/showman will enga­ge the custo­mers, a true event that will offer more chan­ces to the pro­duct. In the futu­re, this fra­mework will be at dispo­sal also for other arti­sans’ sales. The world of com­mer­ce is chan­ging, we have to pay atten­tion to the sub­tle­ties, as craf­tsmen, we don’t have to lower our stan­dards, but firm­ly keep to our strong­poin­ts, using the most advan­ced tech­no­lo­gi­cal instruments.” 

Always fly­ing high, play­ing with ima­gi­na­tion as kids, encou­ra­ging youth, even in view of crea­ting a futu­re for his acti­vi­ty. Young peo­ple able to recei­ve a lega­cy which is bota­ny, legend, ethic, anth­ro­po­lo­gy, socia­li­ty, mar­ke­ting, costu­me…. “At the cost of being a lit­tle rec­kless, I sug­ge­st to young peo­ple to live this moment as a fan­ta­stic one, explo­si­ve, whe­re the time avai­la­ble is short and the­re­fo­re eyes must be well-ope­ned and the­re should be no fear in taking risks. Life is one, let’s not use dreams, but a uto­pia, as uto­pia can be rea­li­zed at lea­st in part. Nowa­days young peo­ple get stuck and are con­dem­ned to grow old ear­ly. But we have to react bra­ve­ly. And we mustn’t for­get to look a lit­tle insi­de our­sel­ves without being over­whel­med by the race of time.”

A final que­stion: what does cof­fee repre­sent and which ones are the favo­ri­tes? “Cof­fee is a rite, a big meta­phor, a moment for rela­xing, a cudd­le, hap­pi­ness. Today I ter­ri­bly miss not being allo­wed to taste it in public, for its heart­war­ming value indeed. My favo­ri­te cof­fees are at the awa­ke­ning the one remin­ding me of my mother, during the day the ener­ge­tic one from Gua­te­ma­la, in the holi­days the Jamai­ca cof­fee, per­fect with cigars”.

Via Mon­ce­ni­sio, 10,
10050 – San­t’An­to­ni­no di Susa (TO)
Tel. 011/9631223
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