Art of coffee making

Aromas, flavours and textures of coffee may be a different concept for a lay person.
But for Stefania Avon, a reputed Barista Trainer and Export Quality Consultant at illy’s Università del Caffè, “coffee making is an art and each coffee bean contains an entire world”.
As Professor of illy’s Università del Caffè, she travels all around the globe but primarily focuses on southern Europe, Middle East, Indian sub-continent and Africa, where she is the main contact for educational activities and consultancies, through on-site visits and remote communications.
During her short visit to Muscat, the Observer caught up with her during a coffee break amid her busy schedule of meetings with baristas, entrepreneurs in the coffee sector and professionals from the hospitality industry.
The Barista Trainer and Quality Consultant is a new figure in illy’s University of Coffee in Trieste, a city and a sea-port in northeastern Italy, the town of illy caffe.
This role of Stefania is in-between the University of Coffee and the Export Department: the core of this figure is to support illy’s distributors overseas, through knowledge sharing, internal and external educational activities, covering theoretical and practical subjects, as well as support during events involving top clients.
Stefania was in Oman at the invitation of Afshin Mohammadi, General Manager, Al Roofoof Hotel Supplies & Trading, the exclusive distributor of illy caffe’ in Oman for several years.
Stefania’s journey with illy began in 2013: shortly after, she joined the Chinese branch as a trainer in Università del Caffè.
Her devotion to coffee and tight learning curve made her develop a deep knowledge of coffee culture, including coffee preparation and serving.
Her passion for coffee and the time invested on learning and self-development in UDC, both in China and Italy transformed Stefania into an experienced coffee trainer.
From January 2016, she implemented the educational offer and introduced the Consumer Courses project in China, while managing all the Chinese branches of UDC.
Under this role she travelled around China and neighbouring countries, training professionals and consumers, as well as local and neighbouring illy distributors, leading events targeted to hotel managers and journalists. In late 2018, after seven years in Asia and five with illy, she decided to make Italy her base camp again.
Back at the headquarters in Trieste, Stefania continues her journey as a Trainer as well as Quality Consultant.
Due to her travels, she speaks fluent Chinese, English, Italian and Spanish.
Before leaving Muscat for Jordan, she led training classes and lectured the staff at the Muscat branches of illy caffe’ about Quality Control, providing an interesting overview of the bean’s journey, from the plant to its transformation in the cup and several tricks of the trade, from making exceptional coffee to handling espresso machines or machine cleaners.
Al Roofoof Hotel Supplies & Trading also represents several other major International brands in the Food & Beverage industry, such as Domori chocolate, Dammann Freres Teas, San Carlo chips, Breville appliances, Davinci Gourmet syrups to name a few.
The mind behind this business, Afshin, started selling illy caffe’ in Oman back in 1999 when, as a young entrepreneur, he wanted to diversify from the family business and at the same time make a job out of his passion for coffee.
The company now owns, besides the trading division, two branches of Chado tea lounge, in Al Mouj and at the National Museum, as well the recently launched ‘The Coffee Workshop’, a little realm for coffee and tea experts.
It was also the sponsor of the Oman Barista Championship that in 2019 has reached the 7th edition.
Afshin all these years long has been making efforts to change the Muscat’s coffee market scene and he thinks that the latter has changed a lot in the past few years, with several independent coffee shops mushrooming in Muscat and with the end users being more and more demanding.
As a consequence, he is planning a bigger project, opening of a local division of illy’s Università del Caffè (University of Coffee) in Muscat, with the aim to generate professional baristas and coffee experts, above all amongst young Omanis. Stefania brews amazing coffee from what I tasted at the “Coffee Workshop” in Al Ghubra.
“Coffee making is an intricate art, care is taken from selection of grains, from roasting to the packaging in the cans,” she says.
Coffee is an important part of the Italian culture, stresses Stefania during her casual talk.
Her lectures to students, trainers and coffee professionals were grasped with interest by baristas and others during her training and consultancy. Stefania expressed her happiness over her Oman visit but was rather unfortunate she missed the seventh edition of the Oman Barista Competition.